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Snowy weather in March boosted online sales: figures

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Consumers bought online rather than venturing to the shops during March’s cold weather, official figures suggested today.

The ONS’ Retail Sales figures for March found that 10.4% of all retail sales took place over the internet. This suggested, said the ONS report: “that during the continued winter weather consumers purchased from their online sites rather than in store.”

The total volume of goods bought in March retail transactions fell by an estimated 0.5%, compared to the same time last year while the value of goods rose by 0.1% to £32.9bn – or £6.6bn a week. Non-food sales fell by 2.6% in March. Average online spending hit £601.4m a week, 20.5% up compared to last March.

“March 2013 was the second coldest on record and this appears to have had a negative effect on sales in the non-food sector,” said the report. “Feedback from department stores, clothing stores and household goods stores suggested that sales were dampened by the weather as they prepared their stores for the spring season.”

The food sector saw 3.4% of all online sales in March, with the amount spent up by 15.4% in the month. Online spending rose by 13.6% at department stores, 16.7% at textile, clothing and footwear stores, and fell by 10.2% at household goods stores.

Non-store retailers – businesses that sell primarily over the internet, through mail order and telephone sales – enjoyed growth of 29.6% during March.

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