Retail search volumes increased 11% in the first quarter of 2012, while overseas retail searches jumped 57% due to the increasing popularity of shoppers using mobile devices said the British Retail Consortium (BRC)- Google Online Retail Monitor.

According to the BRC, the advance was driven by a soaring 132% increase in mobile and tablet search volumes. Retailers that enable customers to compare prices in store is also pushing up retail searches on these devices.

Search volumes grew at their fastest rate on health and beauty and food and drink related items, which were up 21% year-on-year. Electronics is the only category that showed a decline in total search volumes.

Mobile searches outpaces those for total online retail searches in every category, however, mobile searches grew highest for food and drink, which were up by 172% year-on-year.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said:“It’s a sign of these tough times that [price comparison] isn’t restricted to major purchases – the biggest growth in mobile retail searches is on food and drink as people compare different offers.

“Internet search traffic from developing countries like Mexico and Pakistan has more than doubled.

“These statistics demonstrate the growth potential of online for UK retailers and the part retail can play in building a recovery based on exports, given the right conditions and a genuinely free-trade world market place.”