The hot weather and bank holidays in April helped push UK online retail sales up 19 per cent in the month compared to last year, a new report revealed today.
Alcohol sales were the biggest beneficiary of the celebratory mood which swept the country in the lead up to, during and after the royal wedding last month, with e-commerce trade in this sector up 55 per cent year-on-year and 20 per cent compared to March.
Data from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index shows that £5.2 billion was spent through internet retailing in April, equating to £84 per person in the UK.
Tina Spooner, Director of Information at IMRG, commented: “These are highly encouraging results, with growth continuing largely in-line with our estimation for 2011.
“The excellent growth in the alcohol and clothing sectors is very revealing in terms of modern consumer shopping behaviour.
“Instead of just impulsively rushing out to the shops as soon as the sun comes out to buy the appropriate wares, people are browsing online to get access to the widest possible choice and ensure that they secure the best deals in these tough economic times.”
Overall e-tail clothing sales grew an impressive 32 per cent compared to last year and eight per cent up month-on-month, with early heat waves encouraging shoppers to invest in their summer wardrobes.
Sales of alcoholic products saw the largest increase during the month with the average basket size reaching £174, the highest since pre-recessionary November 2007 and almost double the average in April 2010.
Brett Dawson, owner of independent merchant Turton Wines, said: “There were happy faces at Turton Wines in April this year, with the early thaw bringing a huge boost to internet sales.
“Happily, whilst the number of customers rose, so did the average value and the number of bottles ordered. This triple whammy meant a big surge in the online sales value with a 275 per cent increase from April 2010.”
Not all sections saw an increase however with lingerie seeing a slight drop year-on-year and gifts, travel and accessories experiencing reduction in trade compared to March.
Gift sales were down 20 per cent month-on-month and travel declined seven per cent, but compared to struggling high street sales e-commerce in general is performing particularly well.
Chris Webster, Head of Retail Consulting and Technology at Capgemini, added: “April was a very strong month for the online retail sector. 19 per cent annual growth demonstrates, once again, the value consumers and retailers alike are placing on e-commerce.
“This is clearly evidenced by the fact that consumers continue to spend on-line, despite rising inflation and stagnant wages, resulting in a very flat performance on the high street.”