The number of online retail searches grew at their fastest rate this year in the third quarter, up 35% on the same quarter last year.
According to the latest figures from the BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor, which measures changes and trends in the growth of retail search terms, the increase was driven by a rise in mobile search volumes – which increased by a massive 168% year-on-year. One in 10 retail searches are now done on mobiles.
People in London chalked up most retail searches, with 35% of the total. Then came the north of England, 22%; the Midlands and south of England, with 15% each; Scotland, 9%; Wales, 3%; and Northern Ireland, 1%.
The research also shows that the growth of retail search volumes for multi-channel retailers reached 26% in the third quarter of 2011 compared with 71% for purely online retailers.
The number of overseas consumers searching for UK retailers surged by 34% over the same period in 2010, with countries already originating large volumes of searches such as Russia, Pakistan and Mexico boosting their figures still further. The Monitor says that UK retailers are increasingly focussed on growing international sales, particularly in emerging markets, and that the strong growth of searches from overseas demonstrates the potential for growth.
The number of UK consumers searching for overseas retailers grew by 78%.
Interpreting the results, the British Retail Consortium’s director general, Stephen Robertson, said: “Mounting pressures on household budgets may be generating more online retail searches as people work harder to compare prices and track down value. While searches grew 35%, their fastest this year, the BRC’s Retail Sales Monitor shows growth in online spending has actually slowed to 10%, suggesting extra searches are a symptom of bargain hunting.
“Even so, online retailing is still expanding quickly compared with selling through stores, and searching from mobile devices is showing the most dramatic increase. Retailers are engaging with, and encouraging, this shift in shopping behaviour by providing more and easier ways to search and shop via Smartphones and tablets.”
Recipes were among the 10 most searched-for items between July and September. The others were beds, dresses, flowers, HP Touchpad, iPad, iPhone 5, Lego, wedding dresses and Xbox.