Online sales 'save February retail' header image

Online sales "saved" the overall performance of the UK retail sector in February. 

This is according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG, which have released their latest sales index for the month. 

They found online sales of non-food products grew 14.3 per cent in February compared to the year before when they had increased by 12.3 per cent. Internet trade accounted for 17.5 per cent of total non-food sales, up from 15.4 per cent in 2013.

Were it not for online sales, overall non-food retail trade would have dropped in February, the BRC and KPMG said. 

Helen Dickinson, director general at the former, stated: "Online sales continued to show strong growth in February for what is generally a relatively quiet, mid-season month."

"These figures underline the importance of retailers' omnichannel offers, with online sales boosting what would otherwise have been declining sales figures for half of all categories," she added.

Ms Dickinson said online trade has grown by an average of 17.8 per cent over the past three months, which is up on the 12-month average of 12.7 per cent.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, added the internet played a "crucial role" in preventing the retail industry from suffering a disappointing month in February. He said the fact wet weather was experienced across most of the UK means people were probably more inclined to shop from the comfort of their own home.

Online retail's impressive month in February followed a January in which internet-based sales grew at the fastest rate since 2009. Speaking at the time, Mr McCorquodale said the sector was no longer the retail industry's "new frontier" and had instead become its "growth engine".

Figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index show Britons spent a total of £91 billion over the internet in 2013.

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