As shoppers sought out bargains on the web, online retail sales increased, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

It shows that sales were up by 19 per cent in March compared to the same month last year, while month-on-month sales rose by nine per cent.

Mother’s Day provided a boost for online retailers, with sales of gifts up 18 per cent in March compared to February.

Search engine marketing and pay per click campaigns advertising Mother’s Day items, money off promotions and other offers may have attracted shoppers.

Mike Petevinos, head of consulting for retail at Capgemini UK, said: "Online is proving to be a key battle ground for the retail sector during these tough times."

Research carried out recently by Hitwise shows that online retail sites accounted for 8.6 per cent of all UK web visits last month.

This was down slightly from 9.7 per cent in March 2008.

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