Online sales rose 10% in February, the lowest annual growth rate since January 2010.

Sales totalled £5.4bn during February – the equivalent of £106 spent per person – up 10% on the same time last year but representing a growth rate of just half that recorded last February, the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reports.

However the slowdown has been attributed to a strong February 2011 and the gradual phasing out of heavy discounts that had been initiated in December and January.

Growth in February came from a repeat high performance for pure play and catalogue retailers, who recorded year-on-year growth of 13%, exceeding multichannel operators, who recorded growth of just 8%.

This is the second consecutive month that pure play has outperformed multichannel operators.  

Valentine’s Day helped boost gift sales which grew 26% month-on-month and 22% year-on-year.

Lingerie and health and beauty sectors saw a year-on-year jump of 27% and 32% respectively.

The clothing sector has continued to perform at an unusually low level for the fourth consecutive month, recording just 9% year-on-year growth in February. However, this is on the back of a very strong February 2011, which recorded a particularly high 34% growth. 

The sale of alcohol online has grown on January, jumping 21%.

Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini UK, said: “It is very interesting to see the growth of online-only retailers exceeding that of the multichannel. Low footfall and a disappointing performance on the high street could be affecting the multichannel retailers’ online counterparts.

“Online-only retailers’ rapid innovation and adoption of growth areas in e-retail, driven by mobile and click and collect, seem to have put them ahead once again; now is the time for the multi-channel retailers to respond.”

IMRG chief information officer Tina Spooner said: “Although growth in e-retail sales was lower than expected in February, it has to be considered in the context of the 20% rise seen in February 2011, so double-digit growth is still a positive result.”