Department stores saw record shares of their business take place online in July at the expense of the High Street, according to the latest official retail figures.
Online sales grew by 15.3% during the month compared to the same time last year, accounting for a record 18.2% of all sales, according to the latest Office for National Statistics Retail Sales report, for July 2018. Department store internet sales grew still faster, by 35%, year-on-year, to account for 18.2% of retail sales in that category.
Textile, clothing and footwear stores also saw online sales grow fast, by 17.4% to account for 17.5% of sales in the category. Household goods stores’ online sales grew by 9.4% in the month, to account for 12% of sales in the category.
That said, retail sales across all channels grew during the month. Shoppers spent 5% more than they did the previous year, to buy 3.7% more goods, excluding automotive fuel.
Office for National Statistics senior statistician, Rhian Murphy said: “Many consumers stayed away from some high street stores in July, but online sales were very strong, supported by several retailers launching promotions.”
Commenting on the figures, Rob Meakin, managing director at Loyalty Pro, says:“The latest retail figures show that you do not need a global sporting event or heatwave to drive footfall and sales. It’s hugely positive news at a time when retailers’ margins are becoming finer – you only need to look at House of Fraser for proof. The challenge for the nation’s high-street brands, like Asda and even local community stores, is to encourage spend throughout the entire year.”
He adds: “It’s crucial to remember that the high-street isn’t dead, but consumers’ shopping habits have changed. They now demand a service that is tailor-made for them and incentivises their overall experience.”
“The high streets’ biggest charm is that shopping isn’t just another task in the day but gives shoppers an in-store experience that cannot be replicated online. As the retail sector becomes increasingly challenging, companies must understand that shopping is all about the personal touches. For example, personalised loyalty services can give the customer deals based on real information such as previous purchases and seasonal trends. It’s a way to show the customer that you understand exactly what they want, irrespective of the time of year.”
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