Total retail search volumes grew 16% in the first quarter of 2013 according to the BRC-Google Online Retail Monitor.

Search volumes on tablet devices “outpaced those on any other device”, surging 198%, the report found. Searches on Smartphone devices were up 66%.

Total search volumes grew fastest for homewares, up 34% year-on-year. Search volumes were at their highest in the January Sales. Volumes were also up strongly in footwear, food and drink and furniture and floorcoverings.

Total search volumes for overseas retailers increased by 18% in the first quarter.

Total retail search volumes were up 21% in March, compared with just 11% in February.

British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said: “These figures confirm how tablets and smartphones are becoming increasingly integral to the shopping experience for many of us, whether we’re at home or on the move, and from research to purchase. 

“It’s easier than ever to compare prices and products online, and retailers are continuing to invest in their websites and their ‘omnichannel’ offer so that customers have choice, convenience and flexibility when they shop.

“The retail search data also closely mirrors the sales performance across different categories in March.  It’s clear that the prolonged cold snap held many of us back from both browsing and buying new-season clothing lines until some sunshine arrived. But it was a strong month for searches and sales of homewares and furniture, as the Easter weekend got many of us thinking about spring cleaning and home improvement.”

Google retail director Peter Fitzgerald said: “The first quarter of 2013 saw a strong start to the year.

“This growth continues to be fuelled by the multi-device trend we are experiencing. Tablet queries grew nearly three times compared to the same period last year, whilst mobile traffic grew at 66 per cent. These are trends that will only continue into 2013 as more people own multiple devices.”