January online sales growth hits five-year high header image

Online sales grew at the fastest pace since the start of 2009 last month. 

New figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG found internet sales of non-food items were up 19.2 per cent in January when compared to the year before. They had grown by 13.5 per cent in January 2013.

Helen Dickinson, BRC director general, said these figures demonstrate the growing role online is playing in the UK retail industry. 

"Embracing omnichannel sales has been a big driver of business for UK retailers. We've seen an ever-more discerning customer taking good advantage of click and collect and other innovative services. The combination of an online presence with a bricks and mortar offering is becoming increasingly compelling," she stated.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, said internet trade is no longer the "new frontier" for retailers, but has become the "growth engine" for the sector.

He added that online is now accountable for around a third of non-food sales expansion, meaning retailers are "doing all they can to fully embrace the growth prospects offered".

The BRC and KPMG's report revealed internet sales now make up close to one-fifth (17.4 per cent) of overall non-food trade and they expect this figure to increase in the near future.

Statistics released earlier this year in the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index showed Britons spent a total of £91 billion online in 2013, which was up 16 per cent on 2012. The £100 billion milestone is expected to be achieved this year, with the index predicting total sales will reach £107 billion.

Much of last year's spending was during the Christmas period, with online traders like Amazon reporting strong performance.

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