Surge in searches for UK retailers

UK retail searches on smart devices saw an upsurge in the first quarter of 2017.

According to the BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor, total UK retail search volumes grew by seven per cent across all devices in Q1, compared with a year ago.

On smartphones, UK retail search volumes increased 23 per cent. Broken down by area, the South-West saw the fastest growth at 23 per cent. Northern Ireland and Wales both grew by 19 per cent, while London suffered a decline of eight per cent on Q1 2016.

Department stores were a popular search among overseas customers on smartphone devices, growing by 50 per cent in Q1.

Google retail director Martijn Bertisen said: “In the first quarter of the year, digital continued to drive growth for our UK retailers. Retail searches steadily grew throughout the quarter post-Christmas, reaching nine per cent growth in March. Smartphone growth shows no sign of slowing down, with retail searches from mobile devices up 23 per cent year-over-year, seven percentage points higher than last quarter.

“Looking overseas, the EU continues to fuel growth in demand for UK brands, while, closer to home, we saw a slowdown in retail-related searches from Greater London. However, there was an increasing appetite from the rest of the country, particularly on mobile. This highlights the importance of thinking local – we have seen up to 40 per cent of searches on Google have local intent, as consumers are more likely to research their purchases online before visiting a store.”

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “Retail searches in the UK grew by seven per cent in the first quarter of 2017, with those from smartphones increasing by 23 per cent in the same period. This points to the significance of retailers tailoring their online offering to suit both traditional browsing and mobile platforms in order to satisfy shoppers. Smartphone-ready sites and quick loading times are essential to holding customers’ attention and converting searches into sales.

“A closer look at the different areas of the UK shows that online searches from nations and regions beyond the centre are growing at a faster rate than urban hubs such as London, which actually saw a fall. Meanwhile, browsing activity from overseas remains strong, with countries as far flung as Estonia and large markets like Germany seeing particularly strong growth.

“Online sales now consistently make up over a fifth of total retail sales at home, while the appetite for UK brands abroad is clear to see. Satisfying this interest from home and abroad, via computer or smartphone, is the key for UK retailers to make the best of their online offering.”