A new study by Barclays estimates that online shopping is expected to grow by almost a third in the next four years. The study reveals that consumer confidence is improving and people are now starting to shop online in greater numbers. But it also shows the increased level of online shopping is not threatening the High Street.

"People are looking for value and convenience. They are shopping at greater frequency and moving online in greater numbers," Barclays' head of Retail and Wholesale, Richard Lowe stated. As well as electrical and personal devices, the study predicts an upsurge in grocery shopping online.

"'Click and Collect' is really taking off. About a third of all online sales by 2018 will be ordered online and picked up in the store," Richard Lowe explained. "This will be good for the High Street as it will send more people into the town or city to pick up their goods," he added. 

Mr Lowe said this was a chance for the retailer to attract the shopper with further sales once they were in the central business district. "It's up to the retailer to make the most of retail theatre. Once they have people on the street, they have the opportunity to make further sales."

Mr Lowe said it was increasingly important for retailers to have a well-developed online presence as this was where the bulk of the sales activity was moving. "It also has to be mobile-enabled. They can also boost it further by linking their presence to social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest," he added.

MORNING BRIEFS - The Capital Gains tax exemption, introduced in 2011 to encourage activity in the property sector, is to be abolished in the Budget. The move had been widely expected, but now Michael Noonan has confirmed that it is going. The measure allowed individuals an exemption from paying CGT if they held onto a property for at least seven years. It has been blamed for its part in driving up prices of late as investors move back into the property market in search of some kind of yield on their investments.

*** Chiquita and Fyffes have revised their agreement on their merger. In a note to the stock exchange, the boards of directors say the new arrangement will see Chiquita shareholders owning 59.6% of ChiquitaFyffes - an increase from 50.7% under the previous agreement. Fyffes shareholders are now expected to own approximately 40.4% of ChiquitaFyffes. Chiquita has also been the subject of a takeover bid by Brazilian investors.

*** The Irish Hotel's Federation is calling on the Minister to keep the 9% VAT rate on tourism related commercial activities in the Budget. The IHF, in its latest barometer, says nearly all hotel owners surveyed said the measure was having a positive impact on their business, enabling almost three quarters to hire new staff over the past year. Hotels and guesthouses had a good summer season with overseas visitors up 10%, while the domestic market is also showing signs of improvement.

*** Apple has responded to the controversy over bending iPhones just hours after it withdrew its new iOS 8 software update. It said the bending phenomenon is extremely rare and should not happen with "normal use". It pointed out that in the first six days, just nine customers had contacted Apple complaining of bending devices. Apple's share price fell nearly 4% yesterday to just under $98 after starting the day down around the £100 mark.

*** The Northern Ireland based coffee bar chain, Ground Espresso, has confirmed that it is expanding and opening an outlet in Dublin, as well as two new outlets in the North. It has partnered with retailer Next and work has commenced on its first unit in Blanchardstown. It is also finalising a further six new outlets across Ireland which it says will result in the creation of 100 jobs.

***  Lloyds has started selling off some of its shares in the UK lender TSB. It sold £161m worth of shares at 280 pence per share. That amounts to about 11.5% of the company's issued share capital.