The number of international shoppers using smartphones to browse for UK fashion brands leapt by 41% between October and December 2015, compared to the same period the year before.
However, the number using tablets decreased by 21%, according to the British Retail Consortium and Google’s online retail monitor.
Beauty brands followed the same pattern, up 51% on smartphones but down 12% on tablets, as did departments stores, up 33% and down 16% respectively.
The biggest increases in searches on UK retailers’ sites generally came from Spain, Hungary and Argentina, up 62%, 57% and 56% respectively.
Christmas jumpers, Halloween costumes and wedding dresses were the most searched-for fashion items.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: “The final quarter of the year was very much a digital one. The internet played a vital role in driving sales for UK retailers, and, as has been the case for some time now, mobile devices were key to this.
“Among the ever expanding range of mobile devices used by the internet-savvy overseas shopper, smartphones continue to be the most popular. This was particularly the case for shoppers in India, where we saw an impressive 39% increase in smartphone use to search for UK brands.
”Russia and Brazil likewise saw a significant bump in consumers shopping with their phones. All three markets saw a contrasting decline in the use of online tablets to search for UK goods.
“Among growing markets like Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey, UK retail searches from mobile phones similarly soared in December, with only Mexico showing an increase in consumers using their tablets to shop online for UK goods.”
Martijn Bertisen, retail director at Google, added: “In the UK, this Christmas was truly mobile. Over half of searches came from mobile devices during peak periods, and our retailers have felt the effects posting incredible mobile revenue growth this year. Outside the UK mobile is also playing an increasingly important role.
“Across many Western countries we have seen high mobile growth, from mature nations such as the US and Germany, through to Hungary and Poland. However in Asian countries that growth has slowed. In 2014 we saw strong mobile growth from our Eastern neighbours - classically early mobile adopters - and we can see the impact of that now.”