E-Tailers' Bumper Sales Amid Recession

Online shopping continues to be a beacon of hope for retailers as high street sales stall.

UK shoppers spent £3.8bn online last month—16 per cent higher than in August last year, the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index show. By contrast, August's retail sales growth in bricks-and-mortar stores was 2.1 per cent year-on-year, according to Office for National Statistics figures released earlier this month.

August's best online performer by sector was health and beauty, which grew by 34.5 per cent year-on-year, followed by accessories (30.5 per cent) and electricals (20.2 per cent).

The research shows month-on-month online retail sales dipped in August by 10 per cent—in line with seasonal norms. Nearly all sectors were affected, with only gifts (four per cent), footwear (three per cent) and electrical (1.2 per cent) showing a small monthly rise in spending.

Mike Petevinos, head of consulting for retail for Capgemini UK, said consumers are turning to the internet to buy clothing, accessories and electricals because of greater choice and value, as well as convenience.

"It is no coincidence that in these sectors retailers are making the greatest strides to improve their online offer, with improved visuals, enhanced product information, more convenient delivery and return models and an increasing use of web 2.0 techniques," he added in a statement.

However online shoppers are continuing to cut back on luxuries, with sales of lingerie and beers, wines and spirits continuing to show decreasing growth: alcohol sales have had negative year-on-year growth in five out of the last six months, according to the research, while underwear's sales growth has also continued to decline each month.

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