Total search volumes for home and garden products grew by 15% in the third quarter of 2014, compared with the same three-month period in 2013 - new research shows.

According to the latest update from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Google's Online Retail Monitor, consumers are growing increasingly confident searching and ordering a greater mix of products online.

The study said that total retail search volumes on smartphones outpaced search volumes on tablets, with the number of people using their phones to research  products growing 41% year on year.

Consumer interest in home and garden products traditionally grows during the summer months, and the health of sector is also often closely aligned to that of the UK housing market. On this occasion, however, it seems buoyant in spite of a slowdown in the property sector.  

British Bankers Association figures released last week suggest that the number of UK mortgages approved for house purchases was down 10% year on year in September, representing a continuation of the cooling down in home-buying activity since the start of the year.

It could be argued that the interest in home and garden items grew as consumers looked to spruce up their properties while waiting for an improvement in the housing market.

Peter Fitzgerald, retail director at Google, said: "Home and garden continues to be one of the fastest growing online retail sectors with 15% year-on-year growth in the third quarter.

"A warm July led to slower year-on-year growth but that changed in August when ex-hurricane Bertha came to the UK leading to a marked increase in home searches. The August bank holiday also brought an increase in home searches as the UK looked to home improvement over the last long weekend before Christmas.

"Furniture and furnishings were particularly popular this summer as we used the summer to redecorate. While garden searches grew slower this quarter - evidence of the early summer we had this year."

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