UK retailers who trade online welcomed even more overseas customers in the final quarter of 2016, with the volume of international searches for British brands rising 23 per cent across all internet devices compared with the same quarter the previous year.
According to the latest BRC–Google Online Retail Monitor for the fourth quarter of 2016, search volumes in the UK on mobile devices alone increased 16 per cent, with apparel being the most searched for sector by overseas consumers on mobile devices, recording 64 per cent growth.
Beauty was also a popular sector for overseas consumers on mobile devices, increasing 50 per cent in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Croatia demonstrated the strongest appetite for UK retailers thanks to a 106 per cent increase on mobile devices.
READ MORE: Online retail sales smashes records in 2016
British Retail Consortium (BRC) chief executive Helen Dickinson said that in December alone, the online penetration rate for non-food remained above 20 per cent for the 15th consecutive month, allowing it to obtain the greatest share of Black Friday and Christmas sales to date.
“It is no surprise therefore that today’s figures, which show high double digit growth of mobile search volumes across most UK brand categories, are consistent with this trend,” she said.
Dickinson went on to add that the latest figures were further evidence the EU was an important market for UK retailers.
“The challenges and opportunity for UK retailers to capitalise on this rapid growth persist and British businesses remain focussed on tailoring their e-commerce offer to utilise the strength and popularity of UK retail beyond our own borders, which shows little sign of diminishing,” she said.
Google retail director Martijn Bertisen said foreign exchange rates have continued to position UK brands favourably on a globle scale, with strong growth from European neighbours.
“Slowing tablet sales has meant that increased demand is largely coming from smartphones, with triple digit growth observed in some regions,” he said.
“In this mobile-first world, having a great user experience is crucial for our retailers.
“A recent Google study found that only five of the top 20 UK retailers’ mobile sites load in less than two seconds.”
Bertisen added that the top category searches in the UK trended towards consumer electronics in the last quarter thanks to Black Friday and Christmas deals.