Online non-food sales posted a growth of 14.2% in September, ahead of the three-month average of 12.0% and the 12-month average of 12.1%, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.
The performance was helped by low growth in the comparable period, 8.2% in September 2014, the second-lowest of that year.
Generally dry and sunny conditions meant that stores recorded higher than average growth. As a result, the proportion of non-food sales made online was 17.7%, a year-on-year increase of only 0.5%, the lowest since April 2014.
However, the contribution of online sales to total non-food growth has been remarkably stable in comparison to that from stores, which tends to fluctuate from positive to negative.
In addition to the easy comparable, the period was positively distorted by the shift of the Bank Holiday into the September period, leading to a later peak of the back-to-school season.
The fashion categories contributed the strongest to non-food growth. The sales of jewellery and watches, however, fell back in September as the category lost out to fashion, footwear and home products, posting its worst performance for nearly a year.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive officer, British Retail Consortium, says: “Although bricks and mortar shops were the stars this month with great sales strength, online is proving itself to be a successful steady contributor to overall sales all year round. September’s online furniture sales were particularly fruitful with the best sales growth since records began in December 2012. Some exclusively online retailers are now opening physical shops in attempts to connect with more customers and showcase products in the way only shops with a front door can.”
David McCorquodale, head of retail, KPMG, adds: “Online sales sprung back up in September with non-food online sales increasing 14.2% as consumers returned from summer holidays and some bouts of wetter weather persuading shoppers to browse the virtual aisles rather than hitting the high streets.
“In particular, retailers saw positive responses to both end-of season-sales as well as the launch of new ranges for health and beauty products.
“Looking ahead, retailers will no doubt be putting online systems through their final paces to ensure all the channels are ready for the all-important Black Friday and run up to the festive season.”