Internet retail sales now account for almost £1 in every £10 spent in the UK, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Internet retail sales in September reached £539.4 million, approximately 9.6% of total retail sales (excluding automotive fuel), compared with £415.9m in September 2010.
Overall retail sales rose by 5.4% in September compared with a year earlier. However, the volume of goods sold increased by just 0.6% in the same period, reflecting the effect of higher inflation on retail prices: the amount being bought by volume has increased far more slowly than the amount being spent on those goods.
Fuel price inflation
The growth in retail sales was not uniform across all sectors. Amongst the biggest rises was that seen by petrol stations. In the year to September, sales values increased by 20%, while sales volumes increased by 2.8%, reflecting the continued surge in fuel prices during the year. Over the longer term, consumers bought 10% less in volume from petrol stations than they did five years ago, but spent 32% more.
By contrast, sales of textiles, clothing and footwear fell by 2.1%, the largest fall since April 2008. Both DIY stores and stores selling music and video recordings and equipment saw volume falls of 13.9% and 3.3% respectively. Stores selling electrical household appliances, however, saw volumes increase by 5.5%, reportedly a result of consumers purchasing back to school, college and university computers.
Effect of inflation on food prices
Sales by food stores decreased by 0.3% in volume over the period, but the value of these sales increased by 5.7% over the same period. The ONS estimates that food price inflation during the period was around 6%, making it more important than ever to find ways to save on food shopping.