UK online retail market in strong start to 2014

The average UK online shopper spent £78 in January, which was up from £76 in December 2013 and £74 reported in January 2013.

The figures from the e-Retail Sales Index, compiled by the e-tail trade association IMRG and technology consultancy firm Capgemini, also show that overall UK online retail sales in January were up 18% year on year to an estimated £8.1 billion.

Last month's sales increase was better than the IMRG-Capgemini index had predicted, with the growth attributed to improving consumer confidence. With over 100 retailers now sharing their online data with the IMRG, the figures are representative of a wide cross section of the industry.

Among the retail sectors reporting growth were home & garden and health & beauty, which recorded annual increases of 21% and 23% respectively.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, commented: "While growth in the online clothing sector slowed to just 9% year on year, the average spend for this sector was up 6% on the same month last year, which may be an indication that retailers were discounting less following a strong performance over the festive trading period.

"The number of browsers converting to buyers reached the highest levels recorded in the month of January since 2009 and this, together with the 18% annual growth in e-retail sales, appears to be evidence that we are seeing an overall increase in consumer confidence."

Chris Webster, VP, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, added: "The high conversion rate recorded in January demonstrates that retailers are continuing to evolve their digital platforms helping to secure sales by improving the customer journey from browsing right through to purchase."