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Online and offline sales slow during August, a second study confirms

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Sales growth slowed both online and offline in August, according to new figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC). The study is the second in a week to detect a retail sales slowdown in August. Last week’s BDO High Street Tracker put that down to consumers’ decisions to take holidays and shop abroad rather than buy on UK high streets and ecommerce websites.

Today the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor found that online sales of non-food products grew by 6.5% in August, compared to the same time last year. In August 2014, they grew by 19.8% to establish the best performance of 2014 but this August showed the slowest growth since April 2013. However, the proportion of ecommerce sales continued to rise, with some 17.2% of UK retail sales taking place online last month.

At the same, UK retail sales across all channels fell by 1%. By contrast, last August online sales of non-food products grew by 19.8% and all sales by 1.3%. Total sales grew by 0.1% this August, compared to a rise of 2.7% last August.

Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC , said: “August was always going to be tough in comparison to last year which had seen the fastest growth since our online monitor started in November 2012, driven by very strong fashion sales.

“To make things worse, the summer bank holiday fell outside this month’s coverage when a lot of people would have bought back-to-school clothes and back to university furnishings. Combined, those factors led to the slowest online growth for non-food since April 2013.”

She said retailers were still investing in online, managing delivery to make it as efficient as possible in a competitive retail environment where shop prices continue to fall.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG , said many consumers had left the UK for warmer climates in August, denting retail sales as a result. “August saw a slowdown in ecommerce growth across almost all categories with non-food online sales up just 6.5% versus 2014.

“Despite this, online penetration rates remain stable at 17.2% and retailers will be hoping for cooler autumn weather to entice consumers back to the virtual aisles ahead of the Christmas rush.”

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