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October online sales grew by 11% year-on-year – but fell month-on-month

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Shoppers spent 11.2% more online with UK retailers in October than they did at the same time last year – but less than they did in September, official figures suggest.

Ecommerce sales grew by 11.2% in October 2015, the Office for National Statistics estimated. But the total, which saw shoppers spend an average £839.1m a week online with UK retailers, was down by 0.8% compared with the previous month of September 2015. Online spending accounted for 12.8% of the total UK retail spend of £7.2bn a week. That was up from 11.6% of total spending last October.

The also showed that the amount spent overall in the retail industry grew by 0.5% in October to £28.8bn year-on-year, but fell by 0.7% month-on-month. Online food sales grew by 9.4% to account for 4.3% of spending in the category. The fastest ecommerce growth came in the department store category, where spending rose by 19.5% and accounted for 11.4% of sales in the category. Household goods stores saw online transactions rise by 15.7% to account for 7.1%, while textile, clothing and footwear stores saw ecommerce grow by 14% to account for 12.9% of all spending in the category.

Commenting on the figures, Melanie Richard, ONS head of retail sales statistics, said: “Despite the fall on the month, the longer term trend is one of growth in the retail sector. The figures show that over the last year the amount of goods shoppers have bought has increased at a much higher rate than the amount they’ve spent. This is likely a result of store prices continuing to fall.”

Meanwhile, IMRG figures suggested that online sales grew by 8.9% in October – the lowest annual growth recorded in October since the index launched 15 years ago. The etailing trade association suggests that the slow growth comes as shoppers hold back on buying ahead of Black Friday discounts.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG , said: “The ‘pre-peak lag’, where shoppers hold off from making purchases in expectation of bagging a discount over the Black Friday peak, may have started far earlier than last year – as October 2015 growth (+8.9%) was significantly down on October 2014 (+15.8%). Interestingly though the sectors that typically stock lower-cost items – including accessories, lingerie, footwear, health & beauty and gifts – continue to perform strongly, while some sectors stocking higher-cost items (electricals and garden) recorded negative growth in October.”

Alex Smith-Bingham, head of digital, consumer products and retail at Capgemini added: “Given the level of discounting we saw in 2015 a slow-down in sales during the run up to Black Friday is natural. As customers are delaying their spend, particularly for the high spend items, retailers should consider how to maximise that touch point with the customer for future sales pre or post-Christmas.”

The index also found that while pureplay retailers enjoyed an 18% rise in sales in October, multichannel retailers saw their online sales grow by 4%.

Image: © ptnphotof

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