New figures released by the IMRG, the UK’s online retail association, have revealed an 18% increase in online sales in February. This impressive boost, amounting to a staggering £7.2 billion, has been attributed to the wet weather stopping people from venturing outside.

While the heavy rain put a damper on high street sales, online retailers seem to have flourished. Consumers appear to be becoming increasingly more confident shopping online and there has even been a 66 per cent year-on-year growth reported for mobile shopping as well – showing clear signs of where the future of retail is heading.

Strong start to the year for online retailers

Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG, said that this has been the strongest start to the year since 2011.
She said: “The exceptionally wet weather during February undoubtedly helped boost online sales as shoppers shunned the high street.

“It is interesting to see the pure-play merchants not only outperformed the multichannel retailers in terms of year-on-year e-retail growth, but also recorded a 6% annual rise in average transaction value. Conversely, the average online order value for the multichannel merchants remained unchanged from February last year.”

Valentine’s Day sales boost

Valentine’s Day helped increase online sales of lingerie (24%) and perfume and cosmetics (25%). The healthy housing market has been attributed to a 26% increase in the home and garden sectors. Online-only catalogue retailers also recorded an annual growth of 22% – exceeding the 16% increase for multichannel retailers.

Chris Webster, Head of Retail Consulting and Technology at Capgemini, said: “The continued growth of e-retail demonstrates the overall strength of consumer confidence and leads one to believe the disappointing February overall figures are most likely a result of the wet weather.

“As a small aside, it is would be nice to know if the strong increase in footwear year-on-year was caused by a surge in demand for wellies and waders; unfortunately, there are some things our e-Retail Index cannot tell.”