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Online sales help prop up UK retail sector in March

12 April 2018 - 10:41 by Graham Miller

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Last month it was solid growth in safe shopping online that helped to improve the outlook for Britain’s retail industry as a whole, according to new figures from BRC.

Internet Retailing reports that the 2.3 per cent growth in sales across all platforms was modest but reassuring, with e-commerce activity accounting for 22 per cent of the market as a whole.

BRC spokesperson, Helen Dickinson, said that March was still relatively erratic in terms of retail sales, with highs and lows experienced over the course of the month as a result of adverse weather conditions and the impact of an early Easter.

She said that the cold, snowy conditions caused by the recurring ‘Beast from the East’ storms meant that bricks and mortar visits were impacted. However, with food sales also on the rise compared with last year, there was still plenty of enthusiasm for consumables to keep spirits up while temperatures were below freezing.

The clear message from analysts is that retailers which offer customers the option to buy via safe shopping online, rather than having to visit a high street store, were in the best position to boost sales last month.

The study found that fashion items and beauty products were able to generate the most significant increases in online shopping activity during March, with consumers choosing to stay at home and browse for items rather than attempt to get to real world outlets.

Dickinson said that consumers could end up increasing their spending habits later in 2018, so long as wages grow at current levels and inflation shrinks to make non-essential items more affordable. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding Brexit which has yet to be resolved, meaning that these predictions need to be taken with a liberal pinch of salt.