Britain’s leading pure-play retailers registered a 23% spike in sales last year, a new study shows.

Online-only retailers including Shop Direct, Asos and Ocado all enjoyed strong sales uplifts in 2016/17 as mobile ecommerce gained traction among consumers.

A study carried out by intelligence firm RPC and reported by The Financial Times found that turnover for the top 20 pure-play operators climbed to £8.4bn during the year, compared with £6.8bn in the prior 12 months.

The growth was driven by a surge in popularity of smartphone shopping apps as shoppers increasingly embraced the convenience and experience offered by new technologies.

RPC’s Jeremy Drew said the rise of “anytime, anywhere” shopping was driving the emergence of new forces in UK retail.

“From being virtually unknown five or 10 years ago, many online-only retailers are building strong brands and grabbing more and more market share,” he said.

RPC believes innovative additions to apps such as chatbots and augmented reality will fuel even greater shopper uptake.

“Increasingly sophisticated mobile shopping platforms are making it easy for consumers to make purchases quickly and easily whenever they want, wherever they are,” Drew added.

He said the rise of online-only brands would prompt traditional retailers to pour more resources into their own online offerings in a bid to compete.

RPC’s co-head of retail Karen Hendy said that could prompt high street retailers to acquire digital platforms to “bolt on” to their own ecommerce businesses.

Hendy also predicted pure players could look to buy out rivals to build greater scale.

She added: “As online-only sales continue to grow strongly, there’s real potential for a wave of consolidation among etailers.”