Dixons Retail has reported a 4% fall in sales in its ecommerce division.
The news was, however, tempered by 20% growth in its UK and Ireland online sales.
Reporting its first-half results this week the company, which owns Dixons, Currys and PC World, said total sales in its ecommerce division, made up of PIXmania and Dixons.co.uk, were £310.1m in the 24 weeks to October 16 2010, compared to £324.4m in the same period last year. Like-for-like sales remained flat.
The company said PIXmania had traded well in its core European markets, but at Dixons.co.uk a new focus on smaller, faster-moving prouducts had meant lower rates of sales on bigger ticket items. “As a result,” it said, “while unit volumes have grown in line with the market, overall value of sales has reduced.”
The company also said internet sales now represented 16% of total group sales, with multichannel sales growing by 28%.
There was brighter news in the UK and Ireland, where online sales have grown by 20%.
“Much of this growth,” said Dixons, “has been driven by Reserve & Collect, which grew by 53% as customer migrate to well-known branded retailers who provide the convenience of the internet combined with store collection.”
It said Currys.co.uk and PCWorld.co.uk had, since the end of the first half, seen further improvements to their websites.
Total and underlying group sales were flat at £3.35bn, compared to the £3.33bn reported at the same time last year, though up by 1% on a like-for-like basis. Pre-tax losses reduced to £7.9m from £17.6m last time.
Chief executive John Browett said: “Our complete focus on our customers and on consistently delivering value, choice and service continues. We remain cautious on the economic outlook across many of our markets, as consumer confidence remains low.
“However we have maintained our momentum in transforming the group and are performing ahead of the market.”
Areas of growth for the group included the Nordic countries, where it reported an 8% boost to total sales, and a 1% rise in like-for-like sales.