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Online retail order volumes slow before ‘Golden Quarter’

Online retail parcel delivery order volumes increased by only 6.4% year-on-year (YoY) in September, the lowest YoY rate in 2018 so far.

According to the latest data from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index, order volumes “typically decline” month-on-month (MoM) around this time of year, but the rate of decline has been a “sharper for the past two months” than last year.

However, there was a record percentage of orders sent using next-day delivery in September, as 55% of UK-delivered orders used that service option. According to the group next day delivery services are often used to “drive sales and retain customer loyalty”, but retailers’ abilities to fulfil the increasing volume of time-sensitive orders are an “important factor in how industry performs over 2018’s final quarter”.

Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics at IMRG, said: “Looking at the order-volume trend line over the past few years, the declining month-on-month growth between July and August and August and September is expected. It has been a bit sharper this year, though not overwhelmingly so.

“Does this suggest that shoppers have been holding off a bit and we’ll be heading for a big Black Friday and Christmas peak trading period, or could it be a reflection that people are perhaps not finding themselves with much disposable income and, given all the uncertainty around the UK economy at the moment, will retailers have to work even harder to hit their targets during the Golden Quarter this year?”

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