In the face of declining high street trade, new research today shows the number of consumers browsing for goods online is continuing to grow.
The total volume of online retail searches rose 27 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2011, according to the latest Online Retail Monitor produced by Google and the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
Mobile activity saw the biggest growth during the period however with the number of searches for retail made by handheld mobile devices climbing an impressive 216 per cent compared to the same period last year.
Stephen Robertson, Director General for the BRC, said: “While the retail sector as a whole is going through a difficult period, the boom in online retail continues.
“Consumers are always looking for more convenient ways to shop. Retailers are making m-commerce easier all the time by offering mobile optimised websites, apps and transactional mobile platforms.”
Major exporters will be pleased with the 34 per cent growth in overseas consumers searching for UK retailers but this increase was bettered by the 76 per cent rise in domestic shoppers using the net to look for foreign retail goods.
Perhaps surprisingly growth in searches for pure-play retailers outstripped those for multichannel traders, 21 per cent and 14 per cent respectively, as e-tail sales data from IMRG & Capgemini for May showed retailers with stores and online platforms outperform online-only firms.
The need to invest in multichannel is highlighted by the type of products searched for during the quarter, with the struggling sectors of DIY & gardening and electricals proving popular with e-tail browsers.
Peter Fitzgerald, Retail Director at Google, added: “Q2 was an interesting quarter for retail searches online. Volumes were down in April as the warm weather and bank holidays took their toll, but picked up again in May with the return of cooler weather.
“However, mobile searches remained constant throughout the quarter, largely unaffected by the changing temperatures. This is unsurprising given the ‘always on’ nature of mobile users.”