July saw a massive jump in online retail, with sales rising 80% on last year to a new all-time high, according to e-tail industry body IMRG. The organisation's research indicates that UK online retail sales exceeded £4 billion in a month for the first time.
IMRG reports that online sales for July totalled £4.2 billion, £1.86 billion higher than the figure for July 2006. By contrast, high street sales grew by just 3.3% during July, according to National Statistics, to an average weekly value of £5 billion, or roughly £20 billion a month.
Jo Evans, managing director of IMGR said: "We were surprised by the strength of July's growth, so checked and rechecked the figures …then checked them again.
"This data is sound. It reveals the extent to which the retail sector is being transformed by frictionless e-commerce. Major brands are bringing on-stream the next generation of slick new internet retailing services, and consumers are flocking to use them. It's big players' success that is now driving e-retail growth and boosting the Index."
Several factors contributed to July's very strong growth, including the very wet weather which inhibited travelling, encouraged people to shop online, and forced many people to replace water-damaged goods, according to IMRG. It also said that many new-season catalogues are published at this time of year and their orders are now taken largely online. New or updated websites with greatly expanded product ranges, the continuing uptake in domestic broadband and increasing consumer confidence were also cited as reasons for the surge in sales.
IMGR has been collecting sales data from numerous e-tailers since 2000.