Shopping on mobile phones and tablets has overtaken desktop retail traffic for the first time, in a landmark shift in consumer habits.

Mobile commerce accounts for 52% of traffic to retail websites, while 36% of UK online sales are made on mobile devices, which grows to 40% for fashion websites, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Quarterly Benchmarking Report.

The majority of these mcommerce orders are via tablets, comprising 82%, while 18% of sales are through smartphones.

In addition, the total estimated online spend in the second quarter across May, June and July was £24.2bn, with £8.7bn spent through mobile devices.

IMRG chief information officer Tina Spooner said: “With over half of all e-retail traffic now coming via smartphones and tablet devices, the latest Quarterly Benchmarking results reveal a huge landmark in the growth of mobile commerce.

“Considering that as recently as 2010 mobile visits to e-retail sites accounted for less than 3% of traffic, this latest milestone represents staggering growth of 2,000% over the past four years. These results clearly demonstrate that retailers’ investment in mobile optimisation is encouraging consumers to adopt mobile devices as a shopping platform.”

John Lewis’s online director Mark Lewis revealed that over half of the traffic to comes via mobile devices.

He added: “We’ve placed a significant focus on developing our mobile strategy and have more enhancements planned for our app later this year. Customers want to be able to shop seamlessly across all channels, and mobile is now the go-to choice alongside visiting our shops.”

Shop Direct recorded the same trend as IMRG in the quarter as it revealed mobile devices accounted for 50% of online sales, up from 47% the previous quarter, and from 35% the same time last year. Group retail and strategy director Gareth Jones said: “In June, we also saw smartphone creep ahead of tablet as a sales channel for the first time.”

And footwear retailer Schuh said smartphone visits to its website hit 62% in the second quarter, exceeding desktop for the first time.