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Internet sales up 9% in March

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The latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index shows a 9% month-on-month growth in March compared to February and an increase of 19% on the previous year.

The overall rate of growth masks strong variations between different retail sectors, however. Gifts saw a month-on-month jump in sales of 18%, and 118% on the year before, whilst the clothing, footwear and accessories sector continued to be the strongest performing sector with high monthly (28%) and yearly (26%) growth in March.

Beers, wines and spirits were up 4% on February but down 7% on the previous year. Electricals were down 1% for the month and up 20% on a year ago, whilst health and beauty were up 7% and 14% and lingerie was up 2% on the month but down 21% on the previous year.

"During the first quarter of 2009 the Index recorded an average year-on-year growth of 17%. This is ahead of our annual growth forecast of 15% for the e-retail market during 2009," says Tina Spooner, director of information at IMRG. "Online retailers are clearly benefiting from the changing retail landscape and by keeping up to date with current trends, including social networking and customer reviews, they have the ability to understand and communicate with their customers and therefore succeed during the economic downturn."

Zak Edwards, managing director of Prezzybox.com, said: "Sales grew significantly in March with Prezzybox.com posting an increase of 85% on 2008's figures. This huge growth was attributed to an aggressive marketing campaign and a greater analysis and understanding of how to increase onsite conversion rates."

Naked Wines reveals it recruited its 10,000th customer in March, from a standing start just three months ago. Managing director Rowan Gormley said March sales were up 61% on February.

Sales for the month of March were up 85% year-on-year for Greenfingers.com (aided in part by favourable weather conditions) and 53% for Petplanet.co.uk. According to MD Kevin Hague "Both of our businesses are pitched very clearly at the value-for-money end of the market and we have been working hard at extending their product ranges and broadening their propositions. We believe that the current economic climate is making consumers more price-conscious and more inclined to shop around... and we are clearly benefiting from that trend."

Christian Robinson, MD at Firebox.com, added: "Sales momentum continued in March with retail revenues growing 10% year on year. This was partly due to our most successful Mother's Day promotion to date, which saw home and lifestyle items — such as the Slanket and Giant Cup Cake Tin — selling particularly well. New promotions and exclusive product launches also contributed to the growth."

"Retailers that have developed their online offering have been able to reap the benefits of growing trade online and have also increased their influence over high street trading, as consumers turn to the internet to support their purchase decisions," says Mike Petevinos, head of consulting for retail at Capgemini UK . "The clothing, footwear and accessories sector continues to be a strong performer with 26% year on year growth. This reflects the improved quality of the offering e-retailers are providing for this segment."
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