UK retailers enjoy surge in overseas web shoppers: study

LONDON (Reuters) – British retailers saw a huge increase in overseas Internet shoppers in the fourth quarter of 2013, reflecting investment in their online businesses, industry data showed on Tuesday.

With UK household incomes stagnating, retailers are increasingly looking overseas to bolster revenues.

The October to December quarter saw a 64 percent increase year-on-year in the amount of overseas consumers searching for UK retail brands on smartphones, with a 41 percent rise in the volume of searches by tablet computers, industry lobby group the British Retail Consortium and Google said.

Germany, Russia and Argentina saw the most substantial growth rates in smartphone searches for UK retail sites – at 231 percent, 145 percent and 137 percent respectively.

Countries with considerable rates of growth in tablet searches included Germany (130 percent), France (78 percent), Russia (66 percent), Ireland (56 percent) and the Netherlands (47 percent).

Searches for products sold by department stores were particularly high – up 78 percent on smartphones and up 46 percent on tablets.

“This Christmas mobile truly came into its own. Those retailers who invested in cross-device experiences – allowing their customers to easily find, buy and discover no matter where they are – reaped the rewards,” said Google retail director Peter Fitzgerald.

Last month, John Lewis, Britain’s No. 1 department store group, reported a 22.6 percent rise in online sales for the five weeks to December 28, while Marks & Spencer and Next – the UK’s two largest clothing retailers – posted rises of 21 percent and 22.7 percent respectively in their Christmas quarters.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Pravin Char)

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