By Daniel Hunter

Total retail search volumes grew 9% in the second quarter of 2012 compared with the same quarter a year earlier, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The increase was driven by a rise in mobile/tablet search volumes which grew by 113% year-on-year. Total search volumes from overseas consumers rose by 42% in Q2 compared with the previous year.

For the first time, we can report that tablet searches account for 40% of mobile/tablet total searches. There was a noticeable peak in retail searches on mobile/tablet devices on bank holiday Monday, 7 May 2012.

In the second quarter, total search volumes grew at their fastest rate for footwear items, up 19% year-on-year. For mobile, growth in search volumes was highest for food and drink, up by 163% year-on-year.

"For the first time, we can see searches from tablets are responsible for 40 per cent of all retail searches from mobile devices, a very substantial share," Stephen Robertson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said.

"This reflects the growth in shoppers using tablets at home instead of a laptop or PC. Mobile searches overall are booming and the biggest growth area within that is for food and drink, showing smart consumers are increasingly using new devices to price check before buying their groceries.

"Around a fifth of all online spending is on food and drink but only a small proportion - four per cent - of total grocery spending happens online. With non-food goods dominating online spending, there are huge opportunities for food retailers to expand their internet businesses and this will be a big area of competition in the coming months and years."

Peter Fitzgerald, Retail Director, Google, said: "Q2 was a quarter with lots of talking points and events - the weather, the Jubilee and the European Championships. Weather conditions negatively affected many retailers in April, but retail query growth in April was strong. This shows that people were still online and shopping.

"Q2 was also another big quarter for mobile. Some of the top days for mobile queries were around the Q2 bank holidays. This demonstrates two central trends around mobile. First, the local trend - with so many people out and on the go we see mobile queries rise. Second, there is the trend of using mobile devices while watching TV. This drives up mobile queries around the bank holidays, which are big TV viewing days."

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