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Clothing sales slow but travel grows in wettest April

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UK shoppers spent £5.7bn online in the wettest April on record, 10% more than last April but 2% less than the previous month, March 2012, the latest retail sales figures show.

Clothing sales during the month showed their lowest growth for 11 years, at 1%, year-on-year, but travel sales were up by 20%, and electricals rose by 26% thanks to the popularity of the iPad3, according to today’s IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index for April 2012.

This April also suffered by comparison with last April, which was the warmest since 1910 and was also boosted by the Royal Wedding effect. Then, online retail sales rose by 19%, year-on-year.

Chris Webster, head of retail and technology at Capgemini, said: “April was another month to maintain pace for online retail with sales growing 10% on the same month last year, despite the dampening effects of wet and chilly weather. Consumers continue their steady march to migrate their purchases online, which means the high street suffers the brunt of a slackening economy. Mobile commerce continues to surge ahead.”

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “The slowdown in sales of clothing over recent months may be an indication that this sector is showing signs of reaching maturity. Year-to-date sales of clothing are up 10% year-on-year, compared with 28% annual growth recorded in the period January to April last year.”

Chris Clarkson, managing director of, said: “We are certainly seeing the benefit of a wet April and our own sales data shows us that Brits appear to be ignoring adverts for a no-doubt rain-soaked summer in the UK and are instead looking to head away from all of the economic doom and gloom of the UK to seek out a warmer and more upbeat climate.

“We’re looking forward to a very bright year; not just because sales are looking more positive, but also because that’s obviously a sign that more families are getting their annual holiday again.”

This April saw more shoppers buy using their mobile phones, with m-commerce sales up by 353%. The m-commerce conversion rate stood at 1.3%, compared to 0.8% last April, suggesting many who would previously only browse mobile sites are now buying via mobile.

Ryan Kemp, head of merchant services UK for, said: “The growing penetration of smartphones and tablets – which topped the wish list for shoppers on the network for the third month in a row in April – means the number of sales made via mobile devices is growing very rapidly. Shoppers are always in search of the best deal and will not only buy on the move to snap up a bargain, but will even compare prices on their phones while out on the high street. As the year progresses we expect to see a lot more brands include m-commerce offerings in their mix.”

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