UK online retail sales enjoyed their fastest first quarter growth since 2008, increasing by 18% in the first three months of the year.
That is according to the latest IMRG-Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, which shows that online spending reached £5.1bn in March alone.
The biggest rise in sales in March was seen in clothing accessories, up 21% month-on-month and 59% year-on-year, while health and beauty business grew by 32% over the same month last year.
Interestingly, though, retailers selling exclusively online saw only a 6% year-on-year sales increase in March, while those that also have shops achieved 19% growth.
IMRG’s director of information, Tina Spooner, said: “The index reveals an encouraging performance for the e-retail market during March and confirms that online continues to be the beacon for the UK retail market during these tough economic conditions, with the high street suffering its worst drop in sales for 15 years during the same period.
“The 18% annual growth recorded in the first quarter of 2011 is in line with our prediction for the year.
“IMRG’s recent online confidence survey revealed that over 70% of UK retailers expect online sales to remain healthy for the remainder of the year which, when combined with the solid growth recorded by the Index, indicates that the outlook for 2011 remains positive for the UK e-retail industry.”