Rachel Lund, Head of Retail Insight and Analytics, British Retail Consortium:

“January is always a quieter month for shopping than its immediate predecessor, and this year was no exception. Total visits per week to retailers’ websites dropped back below levels seen in the last quarter of 2016, although they were up 5% on January last year. With online non-food growth at 8% year on year, the fact that visits aren’t growing as fast suggests that as e-shoppers become more confident they are making more purchases per visit, rather than browsing a greater variety of pages.

“The big winners in sales terms were furniture and homewares this month, so it’s not surprising that we saw house & garden see some of the highest growth in page views. However, both Health & Beauty and Clothing, which saw weaker sales growth this month recorded some of the highest growth in browsing activity. Clearly shoppers are still looking at products, even if they aren’t spending so much now. Whilst lower conversion rates may be disappointing, retailers should take the opportunity to build identification with their brand, as there will be months ahead when consumers are willing to spend more.”

Christian Marsden, General Manager, Hitwise: 

“Off the back of a strong festive period, January saw a steady rise of 5% in the number of online visits to Shopping & Classifieds year-on-year.

“Yet performance by retail category largely varied. Industries normally associated with a fresh start of the year experienced significant growth, such as Health & Beauty (+14%), House & Garden (+13%) and Sports & Fitness (+8%). In contrast, industries that were heavily discounted over last year’s festive period largely dropped in January year-on-year, including Computers (-14%) and Video & Games (-9%).

“Uncertainty has clouded the start of 2017, as the impact of Brexit on the economy and consumer spending is yet to be known. With consumers turning to the internet for answers, retailers need to keep a close monitor on searches and search clicks to their industry, in preparation for the year ahead.”