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UK shoppers spent 18.3% more online in June, with department store internet sales up by 35%

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UK shoppers spent £586.9m a week online, on average, in June. That’s 18.3% up on the same month last year.

Some 9.7% of all retail spending, excluding fuel, took place over the internet, according to the Office for National Statistics’ monthly retail sales bulletin. That put the average weekly spend across all retailing put at £6.9bn, up from £6.6bn at the same time last year and £6.8bn in May.

According to the bulletin, the amount spent across UK retail rose by 3.8%, year on year, and 0.2% compared to the previous month. The volume of goods bought rose by 2.2% on last year and 0.2% on last month.

Fast-growing areas of retail included non-store retailing, of which 66.5% takes place online, and department stores, which saw the value of their sales rise by 3% and their online sales grow by 35.2% on last year – the highest rise since November 2009. Some 9.5% of department store sales took place online.

Textile, clothing and footwear stores saw online sales grow by 20.1% during the month, with 9.3% of sales now taking place over the internet. But online growth was reversed for household goods stores, which saw spending fall by 13.5%. Some 4.7% of sales in this category take place online.

The ONS, however, said that although the fastest growth came in non-store retailing, “instead of coming from those retailers that sell predominantly online, it was the other non-store retailing or auction houses that provided the most growth in this area.” That suggests fast growth from marketplaces such as eBay.

Meanwhile feedback from department stores suggested that sales had increased as a result of promotions and clearance sales. The lowest proportion of online sales continued to be found in the food sector, where 3.3% of spending was online.

The figures also set out the economic context for the rise in sales. Between the first quarter of 2004 and the first quarter of 2008, retail sales grew by 11.4% in volume and by 14.5% in value, with the difference down to price rises – consumer prices inflation (CPI) increased by 9.3% over the period.

However, between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2013, retail sales grew by only 1.2% in volume and 12.8% in value, as CPI ran at 17.8%.

The ONS figures are estimates based on a monthly survey of 5,000 retailers, including all those large retailers who employ 100 people or more.

Today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released official figures that confirmed positive sales growth seen in the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor released earlier this month. The total value of sales growth reported by the ONS (not seasonally adjusted) was 4.0%in June compared with 3.7% a year ago. In May the growth rate was 3.9%. The BRC’s own figures, released on 9 July, showed total growth of 2.9%.

British Retail Consortium director general, Helen Dickinson, said the ONS figures confirmed the cautious optimism of a retail upturn suggested in the BRC’s own figures earlier this month. “This offers further evidence that tentative signs of a consumer-led recovery are beginning to take hold,” she said.

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