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Five trends that stood out this month, plus May’s most popular posts

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We took a look back through this month’s Internet Retailing online news stories to see whether any trends stood out in May. Here’s what we found.

Return to growth

Ecommerce sales returned to double digit growth in April, after a opening quarter in which year-on-year growth achieved single-digit rises at best. The BRC-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor put growth in non-food online sales at 15.4% last month. That was the best figure since October 2014.

Meanwhile, the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index suggested that April sales were up by 13% compared to last April, and 4% compared to the previous month. Tina Spooner, chief information officer of IMRG , said a survey among members suggested that higher levels of competition and market maturity, along with lower levels of discounts after Christmas, were responsible for a first-quarter slowdown in which sales grew by single digits at best.

Moving into rival stores

Argos opened its first two stores in rival Sainsbury’s supermarkets. Both see benefits in such a move: Sainsbury’s offers its customers more choice while Argos has a new and relatively cost-effective presence in areas where it previously did not.

Sainsbury’s retail and operations director Roger Burnley explained the supermarket’s thinking. “This partnership with Argos is one of a series of steps we are taking to ensure we continue to offer our customers a wide range of products at great value and to make their shopping more convenient,” he said. “We are looking forward to working with Argos to ensure the best availability and shopping experience for our customers.”

Northern powerhouse

A stronghold of online retail businesses in Manchester and its neighbours Lancashire and Yorkshire was detected in a study from eBay . By analysing ‘digital densities’ based both on the number of small online retail businesses operating in a region, and their sales as a proportion of the local population, researchers worked out that contrary to perception, there’s a northern powerhouse of digital traders in an index that puts the perhaps more well-known clusters of Tech City in London in 26th place.

Two-tier retail

Speaking as Land Securities reported full-year results, the property developer’s chief executive Robert Noel suggested two tiers were emerging between different classes of shopping centres and other retail locations.

“We have talked about winners and losers before, and it is the locations which are most in tune with shoppers’ evolving tastes and needs that are set to benefit from consumer spending growth,” he said. To be in tune with evolving tastes, he suggested, meant embracing the changes in attitude that have accompnied omnichannel retail.

Fellow developer British Land said it was testing omnichannel opportunities in its own shopping centres as it reported 64% of shoppers using the channel-linking click and collect service went on to make another purchase. The company is trialling iBeacon technology at Meadowhall, Sheffield (pictured) while it has also attracted Doddle to offer its carrier-agnostic service at the Ealing Broadway shopping centre.

The beginning of the end for the printed catalogue?

In the month that Shop Direct reported it had stopped printing catalogues in response to consumer preference for online browsing, we suggested this might signal the end for the printed catalogue – and considered what other retail staples might go out of stock thanks to digital selling.

Other popular posts you may have missed in May

Hundreds clicked to read how John Lewis had introduced an online booking system for in-store consultations. invests to support growing sales at home and abroad was another very popular read.

My colleague Paul Skeldon intrigued many with this report on what proportion of sales now take place on mobile devices.

But the most popular post of the month, read more than 1,400 times, came on May 1, and was about Amazon, as it raised its threshold for free delivery to £20.

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