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Online sales grow by 7.1% in March: ONS

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The UK’s online sales grew by 7.1% in March, compared to the same time last year, according to official figures out today.

Ecommerce sales were also up by 1.4% compared to the previous month, February 2014, with an average of £680.3m spent each week, accounting for 10.7% of all retail spending, the Office for National Statistics’ March 2014 report found.

The figures came as total UK retail sales rose by a healthy 4.2% in quantity, and by 3.9% in value, compared to the same time last year.

Online spending was strongest in department stores, where ecommerce growth was up by 22.2%, and 9.2% of all sales took place online. It was weakest in household goods shops, where ecommerce spending fell by 8.2% and accounted for 5.7% of all sales. Online spending in textile, clothing and footwear stores rose by 4.4% and accounted for 10.5% of all sales. There was also fast growth in food, where internet shopping rose by 13.6%, but still only accounted for 3.7% of all spending.

“The increase in retail sales should not come as a surprise, but will certainly be welcomed by UK’s retailers,” said Claire Davenport, managing director, “As demonstrated by the unexpectedly high growth in February, the market is continuing to recover as consumers enjoy improved pay and low interest rates. Online and mobile shopping options are continuing to drive growth in retail. Our own research shows that UK shoppers have a growing appetite for online offerings across all retail segments with 66.5% of the population now shopping online.”

Barclays also detected an upturn in consumer confidence. Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: “Today’s figures reflect what we have been hearing from our clients about consumers returning to the high street, with Mother’s Day last month playing a role in encouraging shoppers to spend on small gifts. Spring has sprung, the new summer fashion ranges are now in, and retailers will be expecting the brighter weather to continue to entice shoppers online and into stores.”

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