Mobile, marketplaces lift French H1 online retail sales

PARIS, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Online retail sales in France rose 15 percent to 31 billion euros ($34.86 billion) in the first half, driven by a growing number of transactions on smartphones and the rise of web-based marketplaces and consumer-to-consumer platforms like Airbnb, the French E-Commerce Federation (Fevad) said on Monday.

The acceleration from 10.5 percent growth during the same period a year ago led Fevad to raise its forecast for 2015 online retail sales to around 65 billion euros from a previous estimate of 60 billion euros.

In spite of a still sluggish economy, volumes generated on web marketplaces, which allow third-party merchants to sell their goods, rose 58 percent during the second quarter alone. Sales made using tablets and smartphones rose 43 percent.

The expansion of websites such as BlaBlaCar for ride sharing and Airbnb for home rentals also helped push sales. So did the development of click and collect services, where shoppers order online and then collect their purchases in a physical store.

The number of e-commerce websites reached 167,650 at the end of June, up 14 percent year-on-year. They should reach 180,000 by the end of the year.

France ranks as the sixth biggest e-commerce market worldwide. In Europe, only Germany and the United Kingdom are bigger.

In 2014, e-commerce represented an estimated 9 percent of retail sales, excluding food, in France.

$1 = 0.8894 euros Reporting by Pascale Denis, Dominique Vidalon, editing by Larry King