While sales and footfall on the UK high street remain sluggish, online retail sales saw a significant increase in April.
The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index has found that UK online sales rose by +18.8% year-on-year in April 2018. This is the highest year-on-year increase since November 2016.
Growth averages for the past three months (February to April) have reached +17% - significantly higher than the six and 12-month trends of 13.8% and 13.1%.
However, the findings show that there was a slight fall in the overall market conversion rate, the fifth consecutive decline this year. The report authors suggest that this is likely to be due to the increasing number of sales made through smartphones, which have lower conversion rates.
Average basket values increased - jumping by £14 (month on month) to £117.12 for multi-channel retailers and by £3.50 to £87.16 for online-only retailers. Top-performing sectors in April included clothing and gardening - both likely to have been helped by better weather.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: "Growth in online retail sales revenue has been markedly higher than expected throughout 2018 so far … What has been very apparent is that it is online retail that is benefiting, while the high street is facing a sustained downturn … As shoppers have started to find themselves with a bit more disposable income in 2018, we are possibly witnessing an acceleration in the shift of shopper behaviour over to online."
Mulcahy added: "Much of the coverage of the downturn on the high street sees it as a negative development - but actually shoppers are still shopping as much as they did before, it's not retail that is suffering; it's just undergoing a digital transition at a far faster pace than was previously the case."