Online sales grow by 11% in March as smartphone transactions double

Online sales grew by 11% in March as smartphone transactions doubled, new figures suggest.

But while transactions via a smartphone grew by 101% in March, those via tablet were up by only 6%, the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index showed.

The March figure of 11%, both on the previous year and the previous month, meant ecommerce sales grew by 15% in the first quarter of the year – up from 8% at the same time last year. At the same time, average basket values rose to £81 in the first quarter, from £77. But growth was apparently driven by rising confidence in shopping from a mobile phone.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer, IMRG [IRDX VIMR] said: “Sales via smartphones continue to surge ahead, growing at 9x the rate of sales completed on tablet devices during the first quarter of the year. There is no doubt that larger screen sizes have enhanced the user experience on smartphones over recent years which is a key factor in the shift towards shopping on these devices.

“Smartphone is the fastest growing channel in the UK online retail market – conversion rates were 50% higher in Q1 than the same period last year and average online transaction values reached a record high of £85 during March. Not surprisingly, many retailers are placing a significant focus on their mobile strategy as consumers shift towards handheld devices when purchasing online.”

Sectors that saw strong growth in March included accessories, where year-on-year sales grew by 58%, the highest since May 2015. Home and garden sales grew by 26%, year-on-year, the highest since February 2014. Average sales in the sector rose to £93, the highest since October 2012. In particular, home sales grew by 33%, year-on-year, although garden sales fell by 12%.

Richard Tremellen, retail insight and data specialist at Capgemini [IRDX VCPG], said: “Double digit growth for online sales in the first quarter is a hugely positive sign for the sector, and one which is further strengthened by an increase in the average amount spent online during the period. There appears to be a sizeable shift in consumers’ shift in online shopping.”

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