Online & Digital

Online retail orders on the up

Online retail delivery order volumes were up 7% year-on-year in February, according to the latest data from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index.

The month-on-month drop from January in terms of volume was expected, though the 21% decline was sharper than it has been over recent years. This sharp drop is likely to be a result of last month’s strong performance, when January online order volumes were at their highest since 2013.

Over the past two years, the number of retailers promoting next-day delivery prominently has risen, and February 2018 saw the largest percentage of orders using next-day for the month of February in six years.

February also saw an unseasonal decline in the percentage of orders arriving on time. While a dip over the Christmas trading peak is expected, the index typically recovers in January and February. However, in February it fell away again with just under 88% arriving on time versus 90% in January – which was influenced by the heavy snowfall across the country.

Another significant finding was that cross-border volumes and order values remained strong, especially for EU destinations. This trend is expected to continue unless there are changes in exchange rates.

Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics, IMRG, said: “The huge surge in online retail orders placed in January, when online appeared to benefit from footfall to high streets hitting a five-year January low, appears to have flowed through to lower February volumes.

“The retail landscape was looking pretty bleak toward the end of 2018 due to the continuing squeeze on shopper spend, but inflation eased in February so people may start to feel a bit more confident in terms of how they use their discretionary spend.”

He added: “The extreme weather conditions experienced in February have clouded start of year performance trends so it is difficult to predict the outlook for online retail overall at the moment.”

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