The pace of online retail search growth slowed in the last quarter of 2017, with volumes growing just 3%.

The BRC, which released data in partnership with Google, attributed that fall to the increasing trend for consumers to reach retailers via social media.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “It was the weakest quarter for growth last year, but that reflects the fact that shoppers are increasingly accessing retailers’ websites via social networks and email marketing, rather than using search engines.

“Indeed, over Black Friday, a number of retailers noted that their email campaigns were particularly successful in attracting shoppers to their websites. This only serves to illustrate the importance for retailers of making the most of all their channels for communicating with shoppers.”

Black Friday overtakes Boxing Day

The Black Friday week overtook Boxing Day in search volumes.

Google retail director Martijn Bertisen said: “Mobile continues to be the largest growth driver across the retail business, with strongest growth in fashion, beauty and home.

“The Black Friday period is getting longer and, instead of staying up late to research the best deals, consumers are using their phones more than ever to research deals during morning commute times on Black Friday and at store opening times on Boxing Day.”

The home and garden sector saw the highest year-on-year growth on smartphones, with searches rising 27% in the festive quarter.

Overseas searches for British retailers jumped 19%, with Italy providing the biggest surge as searches climbed 30%.

Across the UK, North Yorkshire generated the highest share of retail searches, with 26%, while Greater London was responsible for 23%.