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UK online sales grew by 16% as April temperatures rose

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UK online sales grew by 16% as temperatures warmed in April, new figures suggest.

The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index recorded the rise, compared to last April, after warm weather and Easter holidays fell during the month. Mobile commerce also continued to grow during the period, up by 131% year-on-year. The figures also show pureplay traders benefiting from a stronger lift than their multichannel rivals, continuing a trend detected last year. Online-only traders enjoyed annual growth of 20% compared to the 14% growth seen by their high street rivals.

This suggests, said IMRG, that shoppers are becoming more confident in shopping over the internet, thanks to the new technologies and services, such as mobile devices and social media, introduced by pureplay traders.

“Now that the green shoots of economic recovery have arrived with a (now distant) spell of sunshine, the momentum of online shopping in the second quarter is even more evident,” said Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG .

“The solid index performance in April is ahead of our 12% e-retail growth forecast for 2013, resulting in average growth of 15% year-to-date. We expect to continue to dominate the retail picture as the recovery gathers greater momentum.”

Categories which saw growth during the month included travel, up by 16%, year-on-year, and beer, wines and spirits, up by 19%. But eletricals sales dipped 3% to an average basket value of £167.

Chris Webster, VP, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, said: “April’s results revealed the influence the shift in temperature and school holidays can have on the retail sector. With the holiday period falling at the start of April and warm weather following in the second half, we have seen uplifts in holidays, home and garden, alcohol and apparel driving the index.”

He said that mobile sales were still growing as retailers invested in personalising the shopping experience, albeit at a slower rate than previously. “A rise in conversion rates suggests that consumers are using mobile devices to research and purchase goods online while on the move,” he said.

Oliver Ripley, mobile product manager at eCommera, commented on figures that showed while mobile commerce grew by 131%, grew more strongly, at 172%, when travel-related services were included. The 41% difference could be ascribed to mobile purchases of travel services.

“Travel remains one of the key growth areas for mobile commerce,” he said, “as, by definition, travellers are away from home when abroad yet still want to have access to services that not only allow them to plan trips but also to help them enjoy their destinations.

“Frequently the mobile device is their sole access to the internet during a trip and is therefore crucial in delivering services that help them enjoy their time abroad. Travel related retailers should now think about what travel mobile services they can deliver to take advantage of the growth in travel m-commerce.”

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