The UK’s army of internet shoppers spent £34.9bn online over the first six months of this year thanks to factors including the rain and European football, according to the latest figures from UK etail association the IMRG. The figure is up from £31bn in the same period of 2011, the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, out today, showed. That’s a 12.6% rise.
In June, the IMRG figures showed, consumer online spending of £6bn – or £117 per person – was up by 13% on the same month last year, but one per cent down on the previous month, May.
Official figures out on Thursday put average weekly internet sales in the UK at an estimated £493.3 million. That meant, according to the Office for National Statistics, that 8.5% of retail sales, excluding automotive fuel, were made online last month. The figures came against a background of a 1.6% rise in retail sales volumes, compared to June 2011, and a 1.9% year-on-year rise in the value of sales.
IMRG’s analysis put the rise down to the wettest June for more than 100 years and to the European Football Championships - and looked forward to more online sales to come during the Olympics.
In June, its figures showed, sales of televisions and other home entertainment grew, helping the electricals sector to year-on-year growth of 35%, and a month-on-month rise of 9%. Also up was the travel sector, with year-on-year growth of 17%.
At the other end of the scale, clothing fared less well, with sales up by 4% on last year but 9% down on May. Accessories, however, rose by 47%, year on year.
“The retail sector has experienced a very turbulent few months, with the Queen’s Jubilee, the football and the weather all playing their part,” said Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini. With the Olympics just around the corner we are likely to see further disruption to the Index next month and for the rest of the year. Retailers are being presented with a unique opportunity to gain legions of international customers during the Olympics, as millions of tourists sample the best of the British high street. Instead of just a souvenir, international visitors could be returning home with a lifelong relationship with British brands and so it is essential that retailers have an international online strategy in place to take full advantage of the opportunity.”
Andrew McClelland, chief operations and policy officer at IMRG, predicted that homeworking during the Olympics would see increased online sales during August. He said: “In challenging trading conditions caused by the weather, continued negative economic news and consumers paying down credit, the Index has still managed to record double-digit growth for the first half of 2012, highlighting the value that consumers place in the strong retail proposition that online is able to provide. The market is on a strong footing to push ahead in H2 now, as we anticipate a boom in online shopping as many people will have the option of working from home during the Olympics and will therefore be in to receive deliveries.
“Of the sectors measured, accessories is showing the strongest growth at 47% year-on-year but mobile commerce is still the big story here, with average order values comparable to the full website, 356% year-on-year growth and retailers seeing mobile sales at circa 8% of their total digital income.“
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