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Internet sales up in May but share of the retail market dips: ONS

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Internet sales in May were worth more than 7% of the total UK retail market, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The experimental figures from the UK’s official statistics body, showed that the weekly value of internet sales last month was £409m. That equates to approximately 7.4% of total retail sales, excluding car fuel.

The figure is lower, however, than the 8.1% share of the market that online sales took in April, according to the ONS figures.

The ONS figures showed the value of sales in the non-store retailing sector, which includes online sales, grew by 12.2% in May, compared to the same time last year. At the same time the volume of non-store sales was up by 11.8%.

The rise comes against a context of an overall 4.4% rise in the value of retail sales in May. By volume, they rose by 2.2%.

Food stores saw sales rise by 1.4% in value, while growth in non-food stores came in at 5.4%. The largest rise (8.5%) was in non-specialised stores, while textile, clothing and footwear was up by 6.6%. Household goods stores lagged behind at 2.7% growth.

British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said the official figures bore out its findings. “Sales revived in May as summer weather arrived and distortions caused by the timing of Easter ended,” he said. He said television sales grew in May, driven both by the World Cup and discounts. But, he added: “With the tournament in full swing, there should be further gains for other football merchandise, such as flags and replica kits, which will show up in the June figures.” Among the goods to benefit, according to Experian Hitwise’s World Cup search figures, could well be vuvuzelas, since a 20% rise in searches has been recorded.

In the meantime, however, figures from BDO’s High Street Sales Tracker for the week ending June 13, showed that the football was keeping shoppers off the high street, with like-for-like store of just 3.6%. Fashion saw growth of 4.3% but non-fashion was static at 0.4%. Non-store sales, which include online and mail-order, rose by 32.3%.

Don Williams, head of retail at BDO LLP, said: 
“After two very strong weeks, there was a marked deceleration in high street spending this week with most retailers reporting slower growth. We didn’t see double–digit gains this time as excited England supporters, quite apparently, were preoccupied with supporting their favourite team.”

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