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Online sales see 13.9% growth in March 2012

Parcel delivery services were called into action to transport a greater number of online orders in March 2012, as internet-based sales were bolstered by the unseasonably warm weather.

New figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG have shown that the UK retail sales market as a whole saw a 1.3 per cent year-on-year rise last month due to the sunny weather, with the online retail market enjoying a particularly sharp rise.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, explained: "Online retail benefited from the warmer weather in March in much the same way as store sales, with people keen to buy clothes, footwear and garden furniture.

"That helped sales grow 13.9 per cent compared with the same month a year ago, the best online performance since December."

Based upon official figures from the Office for National Statistics, it is estimated that online channels now account for around nine per cent of total UK retail sales.

Despite this growth, Mr Robertson also noted that UK economic conditions remain challenging, with the rise in online sales suggested to be slower and more dependent on offers and special promotions than in the past.

The March 2012 figures also benefited from comparison to March 2011, a relatively weak month due to the movement of the Easter holiday.

"We'll have to see whether this is additional spending or just shopping which has happened earlier than usual," said the BRC director general.

According to recent data from the retail analysis firm Verdict, online sales in the UK have soared by 113 per cent over the last five years, a trend that is drawing custom away from traditional high street retailers at a rapid pace.

The organisation suggested that the UK retail market should attempt to embrace more of a multichannel sales approach in future in order to capitalise on this evolution.

Source : Paul Burn – Hermes

13 April 2012
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