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Online sales boosted by February floods

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Online sales saw double-digit growth in February while high street sales fell, according to the British Retail Consortium, as shoppers avoided bad weather and flooding and bought online.

Ecommerce sales of non-food items were up by 14.3% last month, compared to the same month last year, according to February’s BRC-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor. They contributed 2.1 percentage points to total retail sales of non-food, and represented 17.5% of all retail sales in the sector.

At the same time, like-for-like retail sales fell by one per cent on last year, although total sales rose by 0.7%. Food sales fell by 1.7% in the three month average figures.

The BRC commentary of the figures said: “A number of retailers commented that shoppers went shopping online rather than brave the storms and floods to go to the shops, notably in the South and South West.”

Internet sales growth slowed compared to the previous two months.

But, said Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium : “Online sales continued to show strong growth in February for what is generally a relatively quiet, mid-season month. Overall the 17.8% sales growth average from the last three months is significantly higher than the 12-month average of 12.7%.

“These figures underline the importance of retailers’ omnichannel offers, with online sales boosting what would otherwise have been declining sales figures for half of all categories.”

She said that omnichannel retailing was “going from strength to strength” as shoppers used smartphones and tablets to research and buy “almost every type of product” and retailers invested in seamless customer journeys.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG , said: “February saw a hiatus on the high street with online sales soaring while in-store sales stalled.”

He added: “After suffering one of the wettest winters on record it’s perhaps unsurprising that shoppers preferred to shop from the sanctuary of their sofas in February. Online played a crucial role this month and without internet sales, non-food sales would have fallen into negative territory.

“Online sales remain a key pillar of retailers’ revenues and this absolutely justifies the extensive investment being made to improve multichannel operations and the experience retailers deliver to customers both online and instore.”

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