The volume of overseas customers searching for UK retailers has grown in the second quarter of 2017, driven by a rise in smartphone use.

For all devices, search volumes maintained year-on-year growth of 7% in the second quarter of 2017, according to the BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor.

This was boosted by search volumes on smartphones, which increased 26% in the second quarter compared to the same period a year ago.


Beauty was the most searched for sector by overseas consumers on mobile devices, reporting growth of 42% in the second quarter, but apparel also remained a popular sector, increasing 38% in the same period.

Estonia continued to demonstrate the strongest appetite for UK retailers, reporting a 77% growth on mobile devices.

Google retail director Martijn Bertisen commented: “An unseasonably warm second quarter saw consumers increasingly searching from their smartphones whilst out and about.

“Overseas shoppers – from within the EU and beyond – continue to show increasing interest UK brands. In particular beauty and fashion brands are benefiting from an increase in consumer interest,” he added.

“As consumer shopping journeys increasingly involve multiple touchpoints across digital and non-digital channels, we have seen UK retailers respond by protecting always-on presence across digital channels, and seriously invest in omnichannel measurement.”

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Smartphones are increasingly becoming the dominant device for online browsing and therefore the main contributor to this growth. The increase in mobile search volumes over this period is consistent with the upward trend in online non-food sales growth.

“One in five pounds are now consistently spent online for non-food purchases at home, while the growth in mobile browsing from the EU demonstrates a stable appetite for UK brands from overseas consumers. Satisfying this interest from abroad through retailers’ digital offer, is crucial to go some way to offsetting the more discretionary spending habits of hard-pressed UK consumers.”

Word by Sarah Clarke