Shoppers in the United Kingdom spent 5.1 billion pounds ($8.3 billion) online in January, up 21% from one year prior, according to the latest figures from consultant Capgemini and Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), a web retailing industry association.
The travel sector generated some of the largest growth, as more shoppers took advantage of seasonal discounts on vacation packages. “Travel is one of the sectors of the U.K. economy that saw the earliest adoption of the Internet as an initial point of purchase and this trend shows no sign of abating,” says Phillip Rinn, director of advertising partnerships at eBay Advertising.
January travel sales were up 31% compared with the same month in 2009, and the average value of trips purchased was 886 British pounds ($1,439), the highest recorded in over two years. Many of those winter-weary travellers also bought luggage online, says Russ Carroll, U.K. managing director of comparing shopping site Shopping.com. ”Shopping.com saw sales of luggage rise by over 20%,” Carroll says, “as many consumers decided they needed to get away from the miserable British weather.”
Hefty discounts offered by furniture chains also contributed to strong results for online home and garden retailers, as shoppers spent 56% more at these e-commerce sites in January than the year prior, according to IMRG results. “Home, on the back of our Clearance offer, had a very strong month with sales up over 30% on 2010,” says Jonathon Brown, head of online selling at general merchandise retailer John Lewis.
Alcohol sales dropped 67%, which IMRG attributed to shoppers’ desire to cut back after holiday excesses in December.