Record £4.2bn spent online in February

Record £4.2bn spent online in February

UK shoppers flocked to booze sites before the Budget

Over £4.2bn was spent online in the UK during February, equating to £69 for every person in the country, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

The all-time high represents a year-on-year increase of 46 per cent, which has surpassed the expectations of some analysts.

"Online sales growth shows no sign of abating, despite the clear pressure that the current economic climate is placing on retailers," said Anthoula Madden, vice president of the consumer products and retail team at Capgemini UK.

"However, fears of a global recession are a good reminder that e-retailers cannot be complacent and need to be even more creative to keep existing customers and attract new users.

"Innovation, and the ability to provide a truly integrated multi-channel offering, will be vital to winning through an economic slowdown."

The report also reveals some interesting variations in the year-on-year growth in individual sectors.

The most obvious difference was a 38 per cent surge in the online sale of beers, wines and spirits.

Capgemini researchers attributed this to the anticipation of significant taxes levied in the Budget, as well as marking the end of January's traditional 'detox' efforts.

The clothing, footwear and accessories sector also remained positive, but saw slower growth in February of just 3.2 per cent after the January sales surge.

However, the previously burgeoning electrical sector saw a significant drop of 12.46 per cent compared to January. Similarly, fewer health and beauty products were purchased online, resulting in a 7.9 per cent dip in the sector.

"Internet shopping continues to be resilient despite the economic slowdown," said Jo Evans, managing director of IMRG.

"Price-conscious shoppers are using the internet to make their money stretch as far as possible, and online retailers are working harder than ever to give great customer experience."

Evans added that IMRG had noticed significant changes to retail websites since Christmas, as the main players respond to harsh market conditions.

"The best sites are empowering shoppers with vast amounts of detailed information, hosting customer reviews and providing tools to coordinate associated products," she said.

"They are doing everything they can to enable customers to be entirely comfortable in their shopping choices."