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Internet sales slow in February still thanks, it seems, to Black Friday

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Online sales growth slowed in February following the discounting frenzy of Black Friday, British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures suggest.

In all, found the BRC-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor for last month, non-food online retail sales grew by 8.3% in February, taking the three-month average to 8.8%. Some 17.5% of UK retail sales took place online and digital shopping contributed 1% to the growth of UK retail. Over the last three months, found researchers, online sales contributed 1.4% growth to total non-food sales, while stores contributed 0.8% – adding up to a total of 2.2%.

Last February, by comparison, online sales grew by 14.3%.

“The slowdown in February’s figures compared to previous months is unsurprising, given it followed a plethora of promotionally intensive events, from Black Friday to Christmas and the January sales, which accrued strong online demand,” said the BRC analysis. “As such, consumers were in search of new shopping experiences, which are often found in-store while some evidence pointed towards a pick-up in leisure.”

Meanwhile, total UK retail sales grew by 1.7% in total in February, or 0.2% on a like-for-like basis, which strips out the effect of store openings and closures.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said the online figures showed the increasingly important role that the channel plays in retail sales growth. “On a three-month basis the largest proportion of non-food sales growth came from online sales rather than bricks and mortar for the sixth consecutive month,” she said.

The health and beauty sector performed best over the internet, showing its strongest online growth for two years, although only 3.3% of sales in this sector took place online. Valentine’s Day was thought to have driven this growth. Footwear is ahead of other sectors for the proportion of sales that take place online, at 31.8% in February 2015, up from 29.3% at the same time last year.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG , said: “Online sales were the primary driver of growth for the non-food retail sector over the last three months, with shoppers spending more online than in store on non-food items. Smartphones and tablets have helped to cement this shift, and it is vital retailers recognise this and invest in systems which make it easier for consumers to shop using these devices.

“The high street still has a leading role to play in the success of retailers’ operations, but most will acknowledge that it is no longer the sole star of the show.”

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