NEW DELHI: Traffic to India's online retail sites has more than doubled this summer as consumers prefer to avoid the heat and shop from the comfort of their own homes, a survey has said.

The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) polled 3,500 shoppers in leading cities and found that there had been a 155% uplift in visits to online retailers during the summer season. This compared with an 85% increase seen at the same time last year.

ASSOCHAM secretary general DS Rawat noted that, in addition to the usual factors of convenience, rising fuel prices, online discounts and the huge choice available online, soaring temperatures were contributing to a seasonal trend towards e-ecommerce.

In Mumbai, for example, 45% of its population bought products online during the year but this rose to 68% in the summer across the categories of apparel, gift articles, magazines, home tools, toys, jewellery, beauty products and sporting goods.

Similarly, Bangalore was set to see a rise from an average of 35-40% over the last year to around 65% in certain categories.

The survey also threw up some distinct regional preferences, as Delhi consumers were almost twice (78%) as likely to shop online as those in Mumbai (45%). In addition, 7% of Delhi shoppers said they liked to visit a mall for their shopping needs and just 1% went to specialty shops.

In demographic terms, online shoppers were overwhelmingly male (85%) and young (90% aged under 35).

Even among those who were averse to paying for goods online, a significant proportion (30%) were actually researching products and services on the internet before purchasing them in-store in a practice known as 'webrooming'.

This is the reverse of 'showrooming', which the Times of India described as the latest trend to hit the local retail market, with Delhiites regularly looking in store for products like lingerie, shoes, phones and perfumes before going online to buy them cheaper.

According to the newspaper, the practice is now so widespread that Delhi retailers can tell in an instant whether someone is a shopper or showroomer.

Data sourced from ASSOCHAM, Times of India; additional content by Warc staff