Online shopping in the UK is growing year on year (Reuters)

London 2012 drained online retail sales, which fell by 11 percent in August on the month before, as Olympics-distracted consumers were on the lookout for medals rather than markdowns.

Britain's online retail sector continues to expand, as shoppers spent £5.8bn on the internet high street in August taking the year-on-year increase in sales up by 11 percent, despite the month-on-month decline.

"It is very common for August to see a slight decline in e-retail sales, but it is interesting to see just how much an added impact the Olympics had," said Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology, Capgemini UK, which compiled the research alongside industry association Interactive Media In Retail Group (IMRG).

"It will now be up to retailers to capitalise on the changing season, and make sure the correct strategy is in place as we enter the run up to Christmas."

Clothing, footwear and accessories sales were the worst hit, said the IMRG Capgemini UK report, with month-on-month sales dropping by 18 percent in August.

The only sub-sector in online retail to experience growth was gifts, which saw sales rise 2 percent on July. Year-on-year gifts sales rocketed by 48 percent.

"Our sales during August were up 20 percent on the same month last year which is great," said Zak Edwards, chief executive of Prezzybox, an online gifts retailer.

"However, times are still tough and the economic climate doesn't appear to be recovering any time soon, but it really does focus the mind and the direction of the company.

"Whereas years ago we would do things which were 'nice to do', now everything we do has a cost/benefit analysis attributed to it.

"If there is no direct or indirect benefit on sales we don't do it."

On the physical high street initial signs are that sales were not given a boost by the London 2012 Olympic Games as some had hoped.

Footfall figures for London's West End, a retail hub, at the start of the Olympics showed that there had actually been a substantial decline in the number of customers walking through shop doors.

This may be partly down to the desertion of the city by much of the workforce, which had been encouraged to work from home during London 2012 to ease the pressure on the city's creaking infrastructure.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), an industry group for retailers, produced research suggesting there had been no uplift to sales from London 2012.

Like-for-like sales dropped by 0.4 percent in August, reported the BRC.

"It's clear people were absorbed by the magnificent Olympics and had little interest in shopping, especially for major items," said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC.

"Usually-reliable online sales suffered, putting in the worst sales growth since we started the measure four years ago.

"Some retailers told us online activity was particularly thin in the evenings. If people weren't watching television they were more likely to be following the sport on PCs and mobile devices than shopping."