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Shopping online is up, but spending online is down: figures

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More people shopped online in February, but each spent less, on average, than they have for more than four years, new figures suggest.

For while online sales were up by 13% last month, according to the IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index for February, the average spend was at its lowest since October 2008.

Average basket values were down across all categories except gifts (up by 36%), health and beauty (up by 8%) and lingerie (up by 9%), with all probably boosted by the Valentine’s Day effect.

February’s sales growth was less marked than that recorded the previous month, January, when the IMRG said online sales had risen by 16%.

Mobile sales growth stayed strong, but slowed on previous months. Mobile sales rose by 184%, year-on-year in February. That was a dip compared to 207% growth recorded in December and the 193% growth in January.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG said: “Online retail held its own in February, following a strong start to the year in January when the market was up 16%. Valentine’s Day clearly had a positive impact for e-retail with gift sales up 26% on February last year, and the average online gift spend reaching its highest level in over two years.

“The mobile growth rate has slowed by around a third over the last three months or so compared with 2012, which is perhaps inevitable after the boom in tablet sales last year that has no doubt driven it. As the use of mobile devices as internet portals has also become widespread, it has turned mobile into a viable sales channel as evidenced by the rise in conversion rate.”

Chris Webster, VP, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini , said: “The slowdown in the growth of the mobile sector shouldn’t come as a surprise. As with traditional channels consumers are becoming used to using their smartphones and tablet devices to shop, but retailers must realise mobile technology alone is not the ultimate antidote for the woes being experienced on the high-street.

“Like a computer, it is simply an extension of one’s offering, another weapon in a retailer’s armoury – when combined with other channels to make a truly connected multi-channel experience; it is a very effective tool indeed.”

Peter Ahl, chief executive of, said: “We saw robust growth of +30% compared to last February, which is one of the floral peak months of the year. The overall trend we are seeing is that consumers are becoming increasingly loyal to trusted brands with high levels of customer satisfaction rates, relative to peers. As the second largest online flower retailer in the UK, our sales from returning customers were up by more than 80%, whereas new customer sales were more modest in both order size and new customer growth.”

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