Christmas shoppers are expected to spend a record £5.6 billion online during December, a 55.6% rise on the same month last year, says UK payments association Apacs.
The number of adults shopping online has more than doubled in the last five years to almost 30 million, says Apacs, which expects Monday 3 December to be the most popular day to shop online.
"More and more of us are buying our Christmas presents online and the evidence suggests we like to do so about three weeks before the big day to ensure they are delivered on time," says Sandra Quinn, director of communications, Apacs.
In light of this Apacs is warning consumers of the potential dangers of Internet shopping and has issued an online advice guide on how to avoid falling victim to fraud.
In addition, a Web site, shopsafeonline, has been launched, featuring information on the MasterCard SecureCode and Verified by Visa systems for securing online payments.
"Simple measures such as protecting your PC with the most up-to-date anti-virus software can go a long way to ensuring your safety when using the Internet," says Quinn. "Similarly, registering your card with MasterCard SecureCode or Verified by Visa can provide extra protection when you shop online."
Apacs says that the total amount spent on cards in December will rise by nearly 10% to £34.1 billion. This contrasts with a 4.7% fall in cash and cheque spending to just £18.9 billion.