Page last updated at 00:17 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 01:17 UK

Cold April 'sees shoppers online'

A sketch of trolleys entering a laptop
Shoppers seem to be turning their backs on the High Street for the web

Cold and wet April weather encouraged UK shoppers to buy clothing online, spending 85% more on the web than in the year before, figures suggest.

Industry body Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) said 326m was spent on clothing through the internet, amid snow and rain last month.

The increase is in stark contrast to sales on the High Street, which have been bleak lately.

The credit freeze and higher household bills have made consumers cautious.

According to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, shoppers are still spending, but more judiciously.

Lingerie sales were up 72% in April compared with the same month last year, while footwear was up 20%, the index based on about 60 online retailers found.

'Diverging growth patterns'

"Our retail clients have continued to report strong online sales, even in light of the unsure economic environment," said Anthoula Madden, vice president at Capgemini UK's consumer products and retail team.

150bn is a staggering amount of money to have been spent in eight years through a shopping channel that did not even exist fifteen years ago
Jo Evans, IMRG managing director

"It is clear that online is a key survival channel for traditional High Street retailers to ride out poor weather periods and tough trading conditions."

IMRG says evidence of this is borne out in the recent full-year results from retailers Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury's, which both reported booming online sales.

Since April 2000, when the IMRG Capgemini index was launched, more than 150bn has been spent online by British shoppers.

The beer, wines and spirits, clothing and electrical sectors have grown consistently since then, with lingerie and footwear sales experiencing particularly strong growth in the past year.

"The diverging growth patterns of online versus High Street sales clearly show that shopping behaviour is changing fundamentally in favour of the internet," said Jo Evans, IMRG managing director.

"150bn is a staggering amount of money to have been spent in eight years through a shopping channel that did not even exist 15 years ago."

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