While high street sales lagged in the first three months of this year, online retail continued to soar, with its strongest growth in three years.
The IMRG retail index, which measures e-retail growth, increased 18% in the first quarter, compared with the same period last year. Sales in March grew by 14%, totalling £5.1bn.
The news comes as the British Retail Consortium reported a 16-year low in high street sales for March.
But multi-channel retailers saw the highest growth levels of 19%, in contrast to online-only sellers which saw an increase in sales of just 6%.
Tina Spooner, director at IMRG, says online retailers have every reason to remain upbeat. "IMRG's recent online confidence survey revealed that over 70% of UK retailers expect online sales to remain healthy for the remainder of the year which, when combined with the solid growth recorded by the Index, indicates that the outlook for 2011 remains positive for the UK e-retail industry," she said.
Online payment provider PayPoint.net also identified this trend in its own data, which saw an increase in online consumer spend by 38% compared with the same month last year.
Michael Norton, managing director at PayPoint.net, says as budgets are being squeezed more consumers are shopping online to get better deals.