UK shoppers spent 18.5% more online in August: ONS

UK shoppers spent an average of £965.8m online a week in August – 18.5% more than the same time last year, official figures suggest. That accounted for 14.3% of all retail spending, up from 12.5% last year.

Growth was faster than in July, when, that month’s ONS report showed, online sales grew in value by 14.1%.

UK retail sales, across all channels, rose by 6.2% in volume during the month, compared to the same time last year, the Office for National Statistics’ Retail Sales report for August 2016 estimates, while the value of sales rose by 4.1% on last year, but fell by 0.5% on last month. Shoppers spent an average of £7.1bn a week, and £28.6bn during the month.

Household goods store sales grew particularly quickly online, rising by 50.6% to account for 10.7% of all sales in the sector. Department store online sales grew by 19.3%, to account for 12.7% of all sales, while textile, clothing and footwear sales fell by 9% online, and made up 12.6% of all sales. Food sales grew by 10.3% to account for 4.7% of sales in the sector.

Commenting on the figures, David McCorquodale, UK head of retail at KPMG [IRDX VKPM], said: “August was a disappointing month for fashion retailers. Consumers failed to be inspired by the new collections and the heatwave encouraged shoppers to sunbathe rather than hit the high street. Changing customer behaviour and the lure of alternative attractions such as festivals and leisure experiences, coupled with increased costs, are causing concerns in the fashion segment.

“It’s yet to be seen if the August bank holiday and ‘back to school’ purchases will deliver a further boost for retail sales, as these will fall into next month’s figures. For the grocery sector, it will be interesting to see if momentum can be sustained amidst the ongoing price wars, which continue to benefit consumers at the till.”

Ian Gilmartin, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: “The retail industry has again posted a robust set of results, beating expectations in August with more solid year-on-year growth and only a small monthly dip following July’s bumper figures.

“It was a mixed picture for different parts of the industry last month. We haven’t had much luck with the weather this year, and August’s late summer sun arrived just as Autumn lines began to hit the shelves, posing more challenges for the fashion sector. However, the heatwave did provide a welcome moment in the sun for grocery retailers, with demand for picnic and party food and drink jumping as the public celebrated the warm weather.”

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