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More sales taking place online, official figures show

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Online sales took a greater share of the UK retail market in April, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The ONS figures, published today, found that the average weekly value of internet retail sales in April 2010 was £442m, or 8.1% of total retail sales in the UK.

The experimental ONS online figures show a significant rise in online’s share of the market compared with just last month, when internet shoppers spent an average of £372m every week in March, accounting for 6.9% of the total UK retail market.

Across the UK retail market, the value of sales were 4.8% higher in April than in the same month last year. The rise was particularly high in non-food stores, where money spent was 6.8% higher than last year. Food stores saw a rise of just 0.9%.

However the volume of sales rose by just 1.8%, compared to the previous year.

Our view: This set of figures seems to show a growth in UK retail sales. However they may well reflect a rise in inflation rather than a picking up in the quantity of goods being sold.

Analysis of the inflation figures, published earlier this week, showed that the 3.7% rise in the UK inflation rate in April was driven by a rise in the cost of women’s fashion.

These latest ONS’ retail figures also show a 9.4% rise in the value of sales across the textile, clothing and footwear categories.

Either way, however, the really significant figures for us are the online ones, which seem to reflect a real growth in online sales. The BRC puts the value of internet sales at less than 7% of the UK retail market – but to judge from this update, that’s a figure that may be changing fast.

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