By Daniel Hunter
Data released by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) shows that total retail search volumes grew 14% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the same quarter a year earlier. For the first time we are able to show the growth rates of both tablet and smartphone retail search volumes.
In the fourth quarter, search volumes on tablet devices outpaced those on any other device, increasing 238% compared with growth on smartphone devices of 76%. In the fourth quarter, total search volumes grew fastest for homewares, up 28% year-on-year.
For tablets, growth in search volumes was highest for clothing, up by 273% year-on-year. Retail searches peaked on Boxing Day, with more than twice the volume of searches compared with Christmas Eve. Total search volumes from overseas consumers rose by 25% in Q4 compared with the previous year.
Helen Dickinson, Director General, British Retail Consortium, said: "This strong growth shows how online retail really came of age this Christmas. It's playing an increasingly significant role at every stage of the customer journey, especially when researching items and comparing prices both at home and on the move. Retailers continue to invest in their online offer, and more and more of us are reaping the resulting benefits of more flexible delivery options, user friendly websites and improved accessibility and security.
"Much of this growth is driven by the continuing surge in smartphone and tablet ownership. Tablet searches outpaced those on any other device and were particularly widespread on Boxing Day when many used them to get a head start on the sales.
"Searches from overseas to UK retailers' sites also had a strong showing, up by 25 per cent on the fourth quarter of 2011. This really brings home the UK's position at the forefront of international e-commerce, and highlights the increasing importance of having a foothold on the global stage."
Peter Fitzgerald, Retail Director, Google, said: "I think Christmas 2012 will be remembered in the retail world as a particularly strong time for online. Not only did pureplays continue to do well, but those multichannel retailers who have embraced digital had strong performances in tough conditions.
"This Christmas was also a breakthrough time for tablets. Retailers reported record tablet sales and at Google, we saw the phenomenal growth of tablet queries continue. But we shouldn't forget about the importance of smartphones. Mobile queries maintained healthy growth and smartphones increasingly became part of the Christmas shopper journey. 2013 will be a difficult but exciting time and I look forward to the developments we will see as online's presence in retail continues to grow."
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