By Max Clarke

An astounding 216% year-on-year surge in retail searches on mobile phones is driving growth in online sales.

Google searches for online and bricks-and-mortar retailers were up 14% for the three months ending in June 2011, compared to the same quarter 2010; whilst solely online businesses received a 21% boost, figures published today by the British Retail Consortium in conjunction with Google reveal.

"While the retail sector as a whole is going through a difficult period,” commented BRC chief, Stephen Robertson, “the boom in online retail continues. The star performer is mobile, with the number of retail searches being carried out on smartphones and tablets more than trebling for this quarter compared with the same period last year. Consumers are always looking for more convenient ways to shop.

“Retailers are making m-commerce easier all the time by offering mobile optimised websites, apps and transactional mobile platforms.”

The power of m-commerce as an avenue for growth was recently revealed by eBay, whose research estimated UK retailers were missing out on as much of £1.3bn by failing to adapt to the changing nature of retail.

Google’s retail director, Peter Fitzgerald commented as follows:

"Q2 was an interesting quarter for retail searches online. Volumes were down in April as the warm weather and bank holidays took their toll, but picked up again in May with the return of cooler weather. However, mobile searches remained constant throughout the quarter, largely unaffected by the changing temperatures.

This is unsurprising given the ‘always on' nature of mobile users. In Consumer Electronics, new devices were all the rage. Searches for the iPad 2 which launched in March were among the highest in Q2, as were searches for the iPhone 5 which is set to launch in September of this year. Top Apparel searches in Q2 included wedding dresses as we entered the wedding season in the UK, while garden furniture featured among the top searches in the Home category."

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