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January saw strongest online delivery growth in five years: IMRG

The scale of shoppers’ shift to buy online this January is underlined through new delivery data out today.

A 20.6% rise in online parcel deliveries is shown in the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index, published today. This is the strongest January growth for online order volumes since 2013, and may, says IMRG, have come as above average rainfall kept shoppers away from the high street.

Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics at IMRG [IRDX VIMR], said: “Online sales revenue growth was also strong in January, up 13.9%, so it was a strong start to the year for online retail overall in spite of the ongoing economic uncertainty. It was a very wet month for most of the UK, which can deter people from visiting their local high street, but it’s possible that post-peak returns may have had some influence on volume too. Given the record volume of Christmas orders – and the extended returns period that many retailers offer – it is likely that the volume of returns would also be high. Many of these would have found their way back into online channels for resale as part of the New Year sales.”

The IMRG index showed that on-time parcel deliveries recovered to 90% in January, from 85% recorded in December. However, this was still down on January last year when it was at 93%. The most likely reason for the longer-term fall in performance, suggests the report, is the general increase in the proportion of orders using faster, typically next-day, delivery services.

It also added that the relative weakness of sterling also continued to be seen in the destination of online retail orders. While it has recovered against the US dollar in recent months, sterling remains weak against the euro (steadily hovering within €1.12 – €1.15 range). As a consequence, the volume of orders going to destinations within the EU hit 70% – the highest percentage since the index launched in 2011.

Maria Dahlqvist Canton, global marketing director, MetaPack [IRDX VMEP], said the survey was good news for ecommerce retailers and demonstrates that the market remains buoyant following the year-on-year rise in retail delivery order volumes during December.

“There is a definite correlation between the slow-down in footfall on the high street and the rise in online orders, and it will be interesting to see if the trend continues in the February figures,” she said.

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