Small businesses and individuals selling things on the internet are likely to have made greater use of parcel delivery services last month on the back of further growth in online sales.
British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG figures for April show that online, mail order and phone purchases of non-food items climbed by nine per cent compared to the same month last year.
The study noted that the latest monthly comparison is with a very strong April 2011, which encompassed all four days of Easter.
Ongoing growth in the online sector appears particularly significant when compared with performance in the wider UK retail industry, which reported a 3.3 per cent year-on-year fall in sales on a like-for-like basis last month.
On a total basis, purchases were down one per cent, against a 6.9 per cent increase that occurred in April last year.
Record levels of rainfall and cold conditions had an effect on clothing and footwear sales on the high street and could have boosted the number of people shopping online.
Commenting on the recent performance, BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "The long Easter weekend was a peak time for many retailers but its position earlier in the month shifted some Easter shopping into March.
"In addition, April last year was boosted by the royal wedding and the accompanying extra day off for people to shop or celebrate."
He went on to state that retailers are hoping for a "2012 feel-good factor" resulting from events such as the Olympic Games in London and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee festivities to kick in soon.
Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG, said the industry is experiencing significant structural changes, partly as a result of technological advances that are influencing the way people shop.
The UK's e-retail market grew by 16 per cent last year and is forecast to expand by a further 13 per cent in 2012, according to industry association IMRG.
Author: Paul Burn