Some 10% of retail sales in April were conducted on the web, as many Britons preferred to shop while sitting on the sofa due to the cold temperatures outside, which lasted until the end of the month, according to official figures.
The Retail Sales bulletin, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that last month the cold weather continued to weigh on the performance of local retailers, resulting in the biggest monthly decline in a year. The ONS commented that the relatively high share of sales that happened online suggested that during the continued cold weather, Britons bought from online sites rather than in brick and mortar stores.
UK consumers raised their spending on online purchases by 13.2% on the month to £571.7 million a week. By comparison, total retail spending slipped by 1.3% in April from March and was just 0.5% higher than the previous year. The lower sales in the food sector were the main driver behind the slowdown in the retail market, where spending scored a decline of 0.2% on the year. Sales volumes in the food industry slipped by 3.8%, seeing their biggest drop in almost two years.
Unsurprisingly, people spent more online in the non-store retailing sector, which accounted for 66.6% of total spending in the industry. Some 3.4% of food sales took place on the web, recording an annual growth of 5.9%. Despite the increase, food remained the sector with the smallest proportion of online spending than any other sector.
Non-food spending online gained 7.1% on the year, with online sales at department stores jumping 16.4%. Sales of textile, clothing and footwear in stores on the Internet went up 17.4% and sales of household goods fell 15.8%.