The online lingerie sector saw 18 percent growth for the year ending March 11, according to figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.
The results came as the high street reported the worst drop in sales in 15 years, partly offset by a growth in online retail.
In March, shoppers in the UK spent a total of £5.1 billion online, 14 percent more than March 2010 and equivalent to £82 per person. Significantly, the Index showed 18 percent growth during Q1, compared with the same period last year, confirming it as the strongest first quarter performance in three years.
Capgemini head of retail consulting and technology Chris Webster said: “March was a solid month for online retail; 14 percent annual growth is a healthy result and quite a contrast to the reports from the high-street. The 18 percent growth in the Index during Q1 is indicative of a new trend. Consumers are indeed tightening belts, but they are still shopping, and have simply become more strategic in their buying habits.”
IMRG director of information Tina Spooner added: “The Index reveals an encouraging performance for the e-retail market during March and confirms that online continues to be the beacon for the UK retail market during these tough economic conditions, with the high street suffering its worst drop in sales for 15 years during the same period. The 18 percent annual growth recorded in the first quarter of 2011 is in line with our prediction for the year.
“IMRG’s recent online confidence survey revealed that over 70 percent of UK retailers expect online sales to remain healthy for the remainder of the year which, when combined with the solid growth recorded by the Index, indicates that the outlook for 2011 remains positive for the UK e-retail industry.”
Accessories was the sector that performed the highest, with 59 percent growth. Alcohol and health and beauty also proved to be robust, with growth of 21 percent and 32 percent respectively.
The results suggest that the traditional ‘lipstick effect’ products are continuing to do well in the uncertain economic environment, whereas travel showed the worst decline with a two percent year-on year drop in growth.
The widening gap between multi-channel and online-only retailers continued to increase in March. Those with both a high-street and online presence witnessed a 19 percent growth on average compared with March last year, while online experienced just six percent.
John Lewis head of online selling Jonathan Brown said: “John Lewis online had another strong month with sales up over 24 percent with all product areas exceeding both 2010 sales, and our expectations. However it was interesting to see that whilst overall traffic saw slightly slower growth than we have been used to, customers who were on our website were converting at a higher rate, spending more each time they shopped with us.
EBay International senior director of advertising Phillip Rinn added: “The latest IMRG Capgemini e-Sales Index highlights how the online high street is resilient to wider retail and economic trends. At a time when recent figures highlight wider retail sales have seen their worst monthly decline in 15 years, the five percent month-on-month increase in online retail revenue is particularly impressive and shows that at a time when belt tightening was expected across the board, online continues to buck the trend. For marketers, it has never been more important to ensure they have a strong presence on the online high street in order to grab a slice of that £5.1bn pie.”