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Growth in online shopping at its fastest for two years

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Some £4.5bn was spent online in May, as the UK’s e-commerce market grew by 22% compared to the previous year. The total spent online, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, was equivalent to £73 for every person in the UK.

This is the highest growth recorded by the Index since June 2008, and came in a month when warm weather and two bank holiday weekends boosted sales. Compared to April of this year, sales rose by 3%.

Multichannel retailers fared particularly well, seeing growth of 30%, while pureplay retailers saw like-for-like growth of just 11%. Multichannel retailers also had greater success rates in converting browsers to purchasers (16% up compared to last year) while like-for-like conversion rates for online-only retailers grew by 10% year-on-year.

World Cup preparations spurred some significant sales growth. There was a 23% increase in alcohol sales, a 13% rise in electrical goods sales as well as growth in sportswear sales.

That last category contributed to the 32% rise in online clothing sales, compared to last year. Within this, accessories sales grew by 69%, while footwear rose by 52%.

Chris Webster, vice president, retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, said: “Throughout the history of the Index, we have seen a noticeable rise in sales of certain goods whenever there is a major sports tournament on. This year’s World Cup is no exception, with online retail as a whole growing by the highest level in two years, and sectors such as clothing, alcohol and electricals rising especially rapidly.

“It’s good to see that consumers’ spirits haven’t been dampened by concerns over government spending cuts, and savvy retailers will have embraced the opportunity to draw in new customers with marketing and price incentives.”

Bruce Fair, managing director of Kelkoo UK, said: “The World Cup is not just a lucrative event for pubs and bars, these new figures clearly show that online retailers are reaping the benefits as well. A recent Kelkoo report reveals that online spending is expected to hit £116 million by the end of stage two, rising to £205 million if England reaches the finals – representing 10.2% of total World Cup retail spending.”

Tina Spooner, director of information at IMRG said: “With online sales growing at their highest rate in almost two years, this is good news for the e-retail industry.

“Year to date, the UK e-retail market has grown 14%, which is in line with our predictions for this year. With recent research suggesting that over half of consumers believe the economy is now recovering from the recession, it is evident that e-retailers have already started to benefit from an increase in consumer spending.”

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