Spring sun prompts 17% sales jump


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A short burst of spring sunshine led to online sales jumping by 17% last month compared with the year before, figures show.

The spell of warm weather led to an estimated £7.8 billion of online spending, a "clear reflection of the ongoing consumer confidence in the UK economy", according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

Travel spending saw a significant dip in April, recording a disappointing year-on-year increase of just 6%, in contrast with the same period last year which recorded 16% growth.

Instead of spending on expensive holidays, British shoppers chose to update their wardrobes and buy items for the home, according to the index.

It claims that "as a direct result" of the patches of spring sunshine across much of the UK, the clothing and home and garden sectors recorded 17% and 23% annual growth respectively.

Health and beauty online sales leapt 32% last month on the same time last year - the sector's highest in nearly two years.

Sales of alcohol jumped 19% on March as shoppers prepared for family get-togethers over Easter.

IMRG chief information officer Tina Spooner said: "As the UK economy continues to pick up pace, it is evident that the online retail sector is also seeing positive trends during the recovery.

"For the fourth consecutive month we have seen annual growth in e-retail sales exceed the performance in the comparable period last year, resulting in overall growth of 17% year-to-date.

"The same trend is apparent in the number of browsers that convert to buyers, with average online conversion rates between January and April reaching a five-year high.

Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, said: "April's results perfectly illustrate the impact that sustained high levels of confidence in the economic recovery continue to have on our shopping habits as demonstrated by our investment in home and garden.

"This combined with a spell of fine weather, following the wet winter months, has encouraged us to splash out on our summer wardrobes while putting off that foreign holiday."

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