Online sales growth continues

Online retailers have reported their strongest January sales of non-food products since 2009, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

Online sales of non-food products increased by 19.2 per cent in January 2014, compared with January 2013.

The BRC research found:

  • Online purchases represented 17.4 per cent of total non-food sales in January 2014
  • Online sales contributed 1.2 percentage points to the growth in total non-food sales
  • This contribution averaged 1.8 per cent over the last three months - almost a third of the total non-food growth.

Helen Dickinson, director general at the BRC, said the sales figures "showed the continuing growth of online and its increasing importance as part of the retail mix in the UK."

Dickinson said the BRC expects online sales growth to continue "as operations become more efficient, collections more convenient, deliveries faster and technology more integrated."

The figures follow research from IMRG, the UK's industry association for online retail, which showed how consumer behaviours are changing in an increasingly digital - and mobile - retail environment.

A January 2014 IMRG survey of 2,000 online shoppers revealed that:

  • 47 per cent of smartphone owners use their phones to read customer or product reviews when in-store
  • 39 per cent use their smartphone to price-check other retailers' websites while in-store
  • 29 per cent used their mobile to purchase or order a product if an item was out of stock in store.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said that the rise of mobile shopping has "created a new breed of customer." Spooner added:

"It is clear that mobile has a key part to play in the multichannel retail environment. With the growth in sales via smartphones continuing into triple digits percentage-wise, the increasing power of m-retail should not be ignored."