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Online sales rise by 8.9% in January, driven by clothing and department store sales

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Online sales rose by 8.9% in January, compared to the same time last year, as consumers spent £650m a week over the internet, according to official figures out today. However, they were down by 3.3% compared to the December peak, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Retail Sales, January 2014 report found.

Some 10.7% of all retail spending took place online, the ONS figures found. At the same time the volume of total retail sales, which include online sales but mostly take place in shops, grew by 4.4% compared to the same time last year, and the amount spent was up by 4.4%. As with the online figures, sales fell back compared to December: 1.5% fewer goods were bought, and 1.8% less was spent. In December, shoppers spent 2.5% more than in the previous month.

The strongest online growth came in the textile, clothing and footwear sectors, where shoppers spent 12.9% more than at the same time last year. Online sales accounted for 12.1% of all sales in these sectors.

Department stores also saw their sales rise fast at 11.3% growth; online sales accounted for 10.5% of department stores’ total sales in January.

Non-store retailers, which include pureplay, telephone and mail order retailers, saw their sales grow by 7.7% on last year. These retailers, however, accounted for 66.1% of all retail sales.

As yet, online sales remain less key to household goods retailers who have stores. Their ecommerce sales grew by 5.2% on last year, and accounted for 5.6% of all sales. However, store sales in this sector grew by 9.8%, their strongest growth since July 2007. Stores selling other goods saw sales grow by 14.8% in January. However, commented the ONS, “The growth experienced by both store types was in part a consequence of a weak January 2013 where heavy snowfall during the latter part of this month could have affected sales.”

The ONS also said that it had not designated January’s floods and flooding as a statistically ‘special event’. It added, however, that it continued to keep the situation under review.

The ONS figures comes from a monthly survey of 5,000 British businesses, including the 900 largest retailers and a panel representing smaller businesses. Together, says the ONS, the survey covers about 90% of the UK retail industry in terms of turnover.

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