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Online helps keep retail spending in positive territory: BRC figures

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Online sales grew by 13.4% in September, delivering a significant boost to sales growth across retail, according to new figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

For the first time today’s BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor delves deeper into online sales figures, and finds that that a third of non-food retail growth came from online over the last three months, and that 17.5% of transactions took place online.

“Without the growth we have seen in online sales, we would actually have recorded declines in sales of clothing and footwear this month,” said Helen Dickinson, director general of the British Retail Consortium .

“The online penetration rate, or share of the market, reached a record level in September.”

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG , said: “Online sales continued to soar in September but achieved another month of double digit growth. Electricals and back to college items helped to drive growth but unseasonably warm weather also prompted consumers to browse online for the lighter-weight pieces of clothing, checking the latest trends of the season and making full use of the ever-increasing click and collect options.

“This demonstrates the vital role online can play for retailers during the transition between the seasons.

“Retailers have also invested significantly to ensure their omnichannel processes can meet consumer demand and this is reflected in penetration levels which have now reached their highest level seen so far this year.”

Total sales for the month, which predominantly take place in stores, grew by 2.4% compared to the same month last year, while like-for-like sales were up by 0.7%, the RSM showed.

Today’s additional online retail sales monitor also showed that while weighted analysis showed that online sales of non-food products grew by 13.4% in September compared to the previous year, the unweighted non-food, non-store figures showed online growth of 9.9%. Online sales growth came in categories including health and beauty, footwear and clothing.

Meanwhile, Barclaycard’s analysis of transactions through its systems this week showed more moderate growth for online sales, which it says grew by 6.7%, and now accounts for 20% of all retail spending. In-store spending, it said, grew by 2.2%, while overall consumer spending was up by 3%. Online spending, however, was particularly strong in the men’s clothing (38% up), women’s clothing (+36.1%), and furniture stores (+34.5%).

Val Soranno Keating, chief executive of Barclaycard, said: “Shoppers are spending more but they remain cautious and we’re seeing them make smart choices to stretch the household budget, using public transport instead of the car, eating out more but spending less each visit and shopping around supermarkets to take advantage of the best offers.

“There’s been a lot of debate over the scale of the economic recover and whilst we’re not quite out of the woods yet, the fact that consumer confidence is at a six-year high, economic growth is up, and spending continues to grow, clearly shows that we’re on the right path.”

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