Primark has teamed up with ASOS to sell some of its products online (Reuters)

An increasing number of value-focused retailers are making the move to online shopping as consumer spending on the internet snowballs.

The lure of online retailing and its freedom from certain traditional cost pressures is becoming more seductive, as bricks and mortar burdens are intensified by weak consumer demand, amid the gloomy British economy.

Iceland, the budget supermarket, is the latest to venture into online shopping.

Internet spending by UK consumers is forecast by market researchers IMRG Capgemini to hit £87bn (€102bn, $135bn) in 2013, a 12% increase on the year before. Shopping on mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, soared by a huge 304%.

This is the direction retail is headed.

Many old retailers have already embraced the change, while other new stores like Amazon have emerged to break new ground and innovate.

After posting rising sales and profits for the year, and following a successful trial, Iceland announced it would roll out an online offering for its customers. It is late to follow its bigger market rivals into online, with the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury's already well-established in this area.

It means Iceland - known for its value bulk-buy foods, often roundly priced to £1, £2, or £3 - will also have to play catch up not only on desktop computing, but also mobile apps. Some supermarkets already have apps with which people can do their shopping on the go through their phones or tablet computers.

Iceland now joins Morrisons on the web. Morrisons was also late to the online party and only recently ventured into internet retailing. It had been criticised for not reacting quickly enough to the burgeoning online retail market and risked - potentially fatally - being left behind.

Instead of building its own web platform and technology, Morrisons hopped into bed with the online grocer Ocado. Morrisons has bought a license to use Ocado's web technology, so it can benefit from having a system that is already built and known to work well, rather than spending a large amount of time and money constructing its own.

Primark and New Look: Matching Impulse Buys and the Internet

Primark, the ubiquitous high street fashion store which has had a revival in recent years, has also done something similar to Morrisons.

It long said it did not need to venture online as its physical store business was doing well enough without it. Primark is a store where the items are cheap to buy, making impulse purchases more appealing to consumers - and margins tighter for the shop.

However, Primark has announced a deal with online-only retailer Asos, which will sell a limited range of the firm's wares through its website, with items worth between £6 and £22. As with Morrisons, Primark has escaped the hassle and cost of setting everything up itself.

"This agreement makes a lot of sense. Primark were unwilling, or unable, to invest in an online presence and this has given them a great organisation to collaborate with," said Tarlok Teji, retail analyst at Manchester Business School.

"The details of the deal are unclear but I expect it will increase throughput for Asos and give Primark customers a 'digital shopping channel'."

If all goes well, Primark's initial dip into online retailing may be expanded.

What may have triggered Primark is rival New Look's recent success.

New Look now offers online retailing in 120 countries and the company's internet sales grew by 50.1% on the year before in 2012, hitting £94.1m.

As part of this shift in customer habit, New Look signed a deal in October to provide wholesale stock to online fashion retailer Asos.

"We continued to provide a greater choice of service options for our customers, including 'Click and Collect' and 'Order In Store', and we have expanded and enhanced our various e-commerce platforms, which now comprise our transactional website plus mobile and tablet applications," said the firm's annual report.

Republic: Capturing the Problem of Bricks and Mortar

The high street's physical store problem is encapsulated by fashion store Republic, which was recently acquired by Sports Direct.

Sports Direct warned that up to 20 Republic stores face closure unless landlords Intu Properties and Land Securities slash their rents. Part of Sports Direct's plan when it took over struggling Republic was to reduce the firm's rent burdens, which it has managed to do with three quarters of landlords so far.

However, it is struggling to secure a renegotiation with Intu Properties and Land Securities.

Many retailers have succumbed to the advance of online and difficult trading conditions, as disposable incomes are eroded by a high cost of living and a real cut in pay.