The attraction of sitting at home instead of fighting through the crowds around busy shopping centres will convince millions of people to buy online this Christmas. But the government acknowledges that many are still concerned about the security of e-commerce transactions.

Internet sales this Christmas season are expected to reach an all-time high of £1.7m, which clearly shows that people are starting to gain confidence in spending money online according to research released today by the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and pollster Mori.

But the study also found that many shoppers are still nervous about giving out credit card details for fear of fraud and the threat of bogus companies.

"Internet shopping is really as safe as any other form of shopping. Credit cards are protected by their provider and in the vast majority of cases goods are delivered on time without any problem. It just takes people time to trust new technologies," said a spokesman at the Consumers Association.

The survey revealed one of the main factors users are taking advantage of is the ability to buy goods from abroad, often at lower prices. France, the USA and Spain were the most popular destinations for online shoppers.

Consumer Minister Melanie Johnson today spoke out about the importance of safe online shopping, laying down a few simple rules for online shoppers to follow.

Boys' toys website Firebox expects to see sales rise to five times normal levels over the Christmas period, while online bookstore reported its first profits over the Christmas period last year and will be hoping for a similar result this year.