EconomyOnline & Digital

Online retail sales stay steady; mobile growth hits ‘all time low’

UK online retail sales held steady this August, as shopper spending reached 12.8% growth year-on-year (YoY) according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

The growth was in line with the three and 12 month rolling average increases of 12.8% and 12.9%, but below the three-month average 15.3% growth.

M-retail (smartphones and tablets) growth hit an “all time low”, up 10% YoY. While smartphone growth came in at 26.7%, it was the lowest growth since September 2014, and a significant drop on last August’s 53.6% surge. Multichannel m-retail growth showed a 1% YoY uptick, while online-only m-retail growth was up 15% YoY.

Garden sales slowed down with 2.8% YoY growth, down 43% against July’s performance. This is compared with the previous three-month average increase 37.5% YoY. Beauty had a strong month, rising by 25.3% YoY, while clothing showed a YoY increase of 5.4%. Menswear experienced 18.6% growth versus 3% for womenswear.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement at Capgemini, said: “We were expecting a much bigger downturn in August than we got given the effect of the hot summer and events boosting sales in the previous months. The index was down on last month by less than 2%, the lowest decline compared to last four years, and therefore one of best performance we’ve had coming out of July.

“The August performance was largely driven by an uplift in the final week during the August bank holiday weekend. Basket values in clothing however, were 11% lower than last year, which could be a result of heavier promotional activity as retailers continue to claim share-of-wallet categories such as beers, wines and spirits and electricals had a poorer month, demonstrating underlying revenue is coming more from core and necessity products as a trend rather than luxurious items.”

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG, added: “The main driver of growth in our index over the past few years has been smartphone devices; throughout 2016 sales growth through these devices was typically in the 75-100% range, then in 2017 it gradually slowed down to be in the 40-60% range, then as we’ve entered 2018 it has continued to decline.

“This is expected, as very high growth cannot usually be sustained for long periods, but in August three points of note happened. The weak performance seems to be attributed to the multichannel retailers, who recorded overall mobile device growth of just 1%, while for the online-only retailers it was up 15%.”

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