Sales of drinks on the internet have rocketed this Christmas – and the trend is set to continue throughout 2006.

According to UK trade weekly Off Licence News, online drinks sales have ‘exploded’, with one survey finding the internet was the top Christmas shopping destination for 61% of shoppers.

‘Online drinks stores are cashing in on the virtual rush,’ OLN reports, quoting drinks retailers around the country experiencing huge increases in internet sales.

Great Western Wine has just launched a new site which will support its bricks and mortar business, and Wine Cellar has seen internet sales double in the last quarter of 2005. Majestic reports ‘strong development’ in web sales, and Oddbins’ online sales are growing at a rate of 15-20% a year.

The Wine Society has had a sophisticated internet presence for some five years and finds the web ‘is accounting for more and more of our business’, the Society’s Pierre Mansour told decanter.com.

‘On one day last week we had our biggest-ever day online, and December this year has already outdone our biggest-ever month. I think that answers your question: the internet is key to the business, and is growing,’ he said.

The reasons given for the boom in internet sales are the increasing ease of using the web. Web connections are faster, and fulfillment of orders is now very effective, industry experts say.

And most importantly, the perception that it is dangerous to put your credit card details online is less prevalent. ‘People have much more faith in the security of ordering online,’ Mansour said.

Added to that is the simple fact of not having to carry heavy bottles home with you, but have them delivered to your doorstep, one retailer said, and it’s easy to see how the internet is looking more and more attractive.

Written by Adam Lechmere, and agencies