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One in 11 UK purchases online in February

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Internet sales accounted for one in 11 of the UK’s retail sales last month, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Retail Sales Index for the month showed that some £474m was spent each week via the internet last month, accounting for 9% of total sales, excluding car fuel.

Last month, ONS figures showed that 10% of total UK retail sales took place online in January, while in February 2010, 8% of UK transactions were online.

Across UK retail sales, the value of sales in February rose by 5% compared to the same time last year, while the volume was up by 1.3%. Total sales for the month were put at £23.9bn, with weekly sales of £5.9bn.

But they were were down significantly compared to January of this year, with a 0.1% fall in the value of sales and a 0.8% fall in their volume. Non-food stores were hit hard on this measure.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said the figures represented “a more realistic picture of how things are for consumers and for retailers” after the boost to January’s figures from one-off factors such as spending ahead of the VAT rise.

He said: “Customers are seriously concerned about jobs and mounting pressures on their own finances. Food spending is holding up. It’s sales of things like clothing and household goods that are struggling most.”

He said this week’s budget would not make a huge difference to household finances but should help boost consumer confidence.

“Helping customers feel happier about the future, and emphasising growth plans as well as the cuts agenda, is crucial to boosting the retail sector which is in turn vital to the recovery,” he said.

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