Online sales growth continued to be slow in August, after recording lowest-ever June and July growth, new IMRG figures suggest. Ecomerce grew by 3% in August compared to the same time last year, new IMRG figures suggest, according to the latest IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index.
The figure was well below the longer-term trend. Average August growth over the last five years stands at 9.5% for the index, which tracks the online sales performance of more than 200 traders, while sales grew more strongly in the last three months (+5.3%), six months (+3.8%) and 12 months (+5.7%).
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: “Growth for online sales in 2019 has been well below expectation this year, but there was some hope that it would balance out as 2018 was a year of two distinct halves – the first half was very strong, the second half far less so. It was as we entered the third-quarter last year that growth started to fall away, so this should be the point at which growth rates edge up again as they are against lower rates from last year. That has not happened.
It was a month of contrasts, with fast growth in menswear (+21.9%) but large declines in electrical (-22.5%) and gifts (-30.3%). Overall clothing sales were 9.1% ahead, while footwear was up by 7.3%. Online sales of beers, wines and spirits and home and garden products were both down by 6.9%.
Mulcahy added: “It’s not universal bad news – some categories are doing quite well still, but in general retailers are having to work hard to drive sales activity; the average spend is down by around one-third, quite likely due to discounting, and the higher-spend categories of electricals and home and garden are both in negative territory. It’s difficult to see anything terribly positive on the horizon as we move toward the crucial peak trading period; it could be a very tough one this year.”
There was stronger growth in mobile sales, which were up by 14% in August compared to the same time last year. That’s ahead of the longer-term averages over three (+9%) and six (+8%) months. Smartphone sales were particularly strong, growing by 36% in August. The figures, said Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement at Capgemini, came after mobile sales growth appeared stalled in 2018.
“Retailers are focusing more than ever on their mobile customer experience, combined with increases in app advertising and more secure payment options, demonstrating that there is still room for growth and potentially market share by optimising the channel strategy,” said Unadkat.