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October online sales grow at lowest rate for almost two years

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Ecommerce sales grew at their lowest rate for two years in October, when they grew by 7.5%, according to official figures. The previous low was of 6.9%, in November 2012, the Office for National Statistics said.

An estimated £719.6m was spent online each week over the course of the month, the ONS Retail Sales report for October 2014 showed, but the proportion of retail sales made online fell back by 0.1% to account for 11.2% of all sales, excluding petrol.

The figures came as overall retail sales grew by 2.7% in value, and by 4.3% in number. Year-on-year sales rose for the nineteenth month in a row, with shoppers spending an estimated £7.1bn a month, up from £6.9bn last year. But sales growth came at a price for retailers: store prices were down by 1.5% – the largest fall since December 2002.

Online, the fastest growth came in household goods stores, where ecommerce sales grew by 22.8%, comapred to the same time last year to account for 6% of overall retail sales in the category. Online sales of textiles, clothing and footwear grew by 16.3%, to account for 11.6% of total spending in the category. Internet food sales grew by 11.4% and accounted for 3.8% of overall food sales in October. But department store sales, which have previously seen strong growth, were up by just 2.7% to account for 8.5% of sales in these stores.

Commenting on the figures, Richard Lowe, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays, said: “It’s heartening to see that overall the retail industry is seeing continued year on year growth, helped by strong furniture sales.

“Retailers are now eagerly anticipating next week’s shopping extravaganza, in which Black Friday and Mega Monday will fall on the same weekend in the UK for the first time in six years. Recent Barclays research has revealed that 65% of retailers are planning promotions this weekend, so it should be the perfect opportunity to pick up a bargain.”

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