LONDON: Over half of the customer traffic to the website of John Lewis, the UK department store chain, comes from mobile devices, overtaking PCs for the first time.

According to the second annual John Lewis Retail Report, which analysed its own customer transactions over a year to July 2014, the convenience of mobile shopping also encourages customers to make purchases in the early hours.

Online sales between the hours of midnight and 6am rose by almost a third (31%) over the past year, Marketing Magazine reported, although 70% of all sales still take place in physical stores.

Looking at these overnight purchases in closer detail, men tend to log on to buy formalwear between 1am and 2am while parents shop for nursery items at about 4am. Meanwhile, women shop for shoes and handbags between 5am and 7am.

While mobile has become increasingly important, the report said the ability to mix and match purchase channels and delivery options is now the norm.

John Lewis said at least 50% of purchases have an online characteristic while almost a quarter (23%) of its customers research online and then buy in a shop. Convenience and personalisation are also becoming more important, the retailer said.

Separately, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) announced that total retail spending in the UK was 0.8% lower in September than the same month a year ago.

This was the steepest fall since December 2008, excluding Easter distortions, which the BRC said was caused by unseasonably warm weather and declining food sales.

However, the BRC and KPMG, the business services firm which co-authored the report, remained upbeat about prospects for UK retailers in the months ahead.

"One warm September doesn't ruin a Christmas and retailers on the whole are on a firm footing as they enter the all-important final quarter," said David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG.

"The winners will be those who have invested in their systems and carefully managed their stock levels to give themselves the best shot at a successful Christmas," he added.

Data sourced from John Lewis, Marketing Magazine, BRC; additional content by Warc staff