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By Karen Moss

UK consumers spent £5.8 billion online in March, the equivalent of £114 per person, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. This equates to a year-on-year growth of 14 per cent for the e-retail sector and a nine per cent increase on February.

With more and more tech-savvy Brits using smartphones and tablets fitted with sophisticated applications, shopping via mobile devices is becoming an important driver of online shopping. As a result, m-retail has recorded huge growth, up a staggering 254 per cent on March 2011 and averaging 300 per cent year-on-year growth for Q1 2012.

Interestingly, the conversion rates for mobile (those shoppers that visit a retail site via a mobile device and make a purchase from it) remains very low – 0.7 per cent in Q1 2011, increasing to 1.4 per cent in Q1 2012, compared to 4.13 per cent in March for traditional online website visitor conversions.

The overall online market saw a 13 per cent year-on-year growth during the first quarter of 2012, confirming our earlier estimates for the year and a positive indication that the market is doing well in spite of the economy.

March was given a major boost by the sunny start to spring, which saw fashion-conscious Brits updating their wardrobes, resulting in growth of 15 per cent year-on-year and a steep 23 per cent month-on-month rise in the clothing sector.

Mothering Sunday was another key driver in March’s strong performance. The gifts sector in particular saw the benefits of shoppers jumping online to buy presents for mum, leaping 48 per cent year-on-year. Similarly, the health & beauty sector, which includes perfumes and other toiletries, saw a respectable increase of 19 per cent on February.



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