Food and grocery is set to become the most valuable online retail sector in the UK, according to a report out today (3 June).

Electrical items remain the most popular on purchase but food is set to take the top spot by 2012, retail analyst Verdict Research has forecast.

Food and electricals accounted for almost half of online sales in the UK last year but Verdict predicts that grocery sales will represent 29% of the market in four years’ time. Electrical items will account for 22% of sales in 2012, Verdict said.

The researchers said online shopping was becoming an “integral” part of the UK retail landscape. Last year, sales jumped 35% to GBP14bn and Verdict said that “strong growth” is set to continue.

Convenience and price will be two factors behind the growth of the online channel, Malcolm Pinkerton, senior retail analyst at Verdict, said.

“The internet is widely perceived as a cheaper and easier way of finding lower prices and bargains in most sectors,” Pinkerton said. “As the cost of broadband falls, consumers become accustomed to internet shopping and retailers continue to enhance their online propositions, the channel will find itself extremely well-placed to capitalise on the falling consumer confidence and lower levels of disposable income currently impacting the retail market.”