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Online sales grew by just 6% in February: IMRG

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Online sales grew by just 6% in February, according to new IMRG figures.

The figure, from this month’s IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, is below previous expectations and comes after a January in which, IMRG figures suggest, ecommerce sales grew by 7%. Last February, sales grew by 18%. February sales were also 12% down compared to the previous month.

E-Valentine purchases helped lift some categories, with internet sales of gifts up by 28% compared to the same time last year, while lingerie sales grew by 22% and healthy and beauty sales by 19% over the same period. Alcohol sales also lifted by 42% on last year, after the traditionally dry month of January.

But online clothing sales grew by only 4% year-on-year, compared to 20% in February 2014, but other sectors performed more positively. Valentine’s Day helped boost sales in the sectors traditionally associated with romantic presents, including gifts which grew an impressive 30% month-on-month and 28% year-on-year. Similarly, the lingerie and health & beauty sectors saw a year-on-year jump of 22% and 19% respectively.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer, at IMRG said: “While the UK online retail market has seen a relatively weak start to the year, the latest results reveal a number of lower-ticket sectors performed well during February, including health & beauty, lingerie and gifts, which were no doubt boosted by Valentine’s Day.

“It is interesting to see that the high street/multichannel retailers have seen a stronger start to 2015 than their online-only counterparts, with online retail sales up 8% year-to-date, while the latter group have recorded just 2% year-on-year growth. However, looking at the mobile commerce performance of these two groups, it is clear that the pureplay merchants are ahead, with annual growth in sales via smartphones and tablets reaching an average of 89% over the past six months, almost three times the growth rate recorded by the multichannel retailers.”

Alex Smith-Bingham, head of digital, consumer products and retail, Capgemini said: “February’s index would suggest there has been little cheer to be had for retailers so far this year. Subsequent months will show whether this is a new pattern of steady muted growth or a blip.

“As we move into spring and out of the cold winter months, shoppers will be keen to update their wardrobes and make the most of the new clothing lines being introduced. As long as online retailers are prepared to make the most of the opportunity, we should see a gradual uplift begin in March.”

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