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Modest growth in online shopping reported

12 February 2018 - 11:41 by Mike Price

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New stats released by the British Retail Consortium show that sales made online rose by 5.3 per cent last month, signalling the subdued state of the sector as a whole.

Internet Retailing reports that the high street fared less well, with a 2.9 per cent drop in sales over the course of January.

Safe shopping online accounted for 22.2 per cent of the entire retail market during this period, showing that it is still making small but significant gains.

Study spokesperson, Paul Martin, said that the post-Christmas lull that hits the retail market each year is always a challenge for bricks and mortar stores, but pointed out that web-based outlets still managed to perform well as consumers sought out bargains.

Clothing and gadgets were the two areas in which the biggest spending increases were experienced in January. Now Martin said that the continued downturn on the high street was forcing many retailers to reassess the way they operate stores to make them more competitive.

Analysts warn that 2018 could be a difficult year for retail, with ongoing real term reductions in wages meaning that people have less money to spend each month. Add in the impact of inflation and there may be less demand for luxuries as consumers focus their financial resources on securing essentials.

The spectre of Brexit hangs over this industry, as it does over the economy of the UK as a whole. Insiders are keen to see improved stability and a return of consumer confidence, although with so many questions left unanswered at the moment there are no certainties about what the future might hold.

The muted growth of online shopping in January could be a sign of how things will pan out over the course of the coming months.