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Online sales grew by 14% in October at start of Christmas shopping: IMRG/Capgemini

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Online shopping grew by 14% in October, sparking suggestions that the Christmas shopping season is now well underway.

The latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index showed that £6.7bn was spent online last month, taking overall sales growth close to the IMRG’s 15% annual growth forecast for the quarter. In the gift category alone, sales rose by 62% compared to the previous month and 30% on the previous year. Clothing also showed healthy growth, with sales up by 12% on the same month last year and by 6% compared to September, while the release of the iPhone5 pushed electrical sales up by 14% compared to both last year and last month.

Gift retailer Buyagift.com said it had shared in the healthy growth. Kashif Abbas, country manager at Buyagift.com said all its channels had achieved or exceeded their budgeted growth figures, with the overall business seeing sales up by 21%, year-on-year. “Online traffic to Buyagift.com grew by 25% which highlights an encouraging trend of customers choosing to shop online for buying gifts. Plus 10% of our orders were placed using mobile/tablet devices and we are expecting this figure to grow as we go into the Christmas season. In the current climate customers are looking for greater choice and value for money.”

October’s figures also showed pureplay retailers growing faster than their multichannel colleagues. Online-only traders saw their sales grow 5% faster than multichannellers.

But the biggest growth in today’s report comes from m-commerce which it suggests grew by 261% year-on-year. IMRG and Capgemini have predicted that 20% of online orders will be placed via mobile devices in a Christmas shopping season that they expect to peak in the two weeks starting December 3 and December 10. They forecast £4.6bn will be spent in that fortnight, 15% more than at the same time last year.

Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, said: “With the economy slowly improving but with a highly uncertain future, online shoppers are spending but only cautiously as they save up prior to Christmas. There is much growth to be tapped in the internet market but knowing your target audience and matching their expectation with your offering is crucial. The explosion in m-commerce suggests retailers are matching this expectation and satisfying customer demand.”

Andrew McClelland, managing director at IMRG, said the October growth of 14% was a “solid result”. “This year we really expect online sales to hit their peak in early December, when we estimate £4.6bn will be spent during the peak Christmas fortnight. The real story this year is about mobile though, as we anticipate that 20% of online sales will be made through smartphones and tablets this Christmas. The pace at which mobile sales have grown in 2012 is staggering and there are no signs it will slow up going into 2013.”

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