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Online sales grow by 16% in August: IMRG

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Online sales grew fast in August, as a heatwave arrived and more shoppers turned to their smartphones to buy, new IMRG figures suggest.

In all, shoppers spent £9.8bn over the internet last month, according to the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index. That’s 16% more than in the same month last year. Last August online sales rose by only 5%, compared to the previous year – though this can be partly explained by the August bank holiday falling in September’s figures last year. This year, retailers selling clothing (+20% year-on-year), accessories (+48%), and home (+30%) and garden (+25%) equipment saw strong growth, while alcohol sales were 4% ahead of last year.

The proportion of sales taking place over a smartphone grew fast. The index showed that some 49.5% of mobile sales were made on a smartphone, compared to 50.5% for tablet. This represents year-on-year growth of 18.5% for smartphones. In August 2015 they accounted for only 31% of mobile sales – and 69% were made on a tablet.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer, at IMRG , said: “The solid performance in online sales continued during August, resulting in overall growth year-to-date reaching 15%, which is ahead of our growth forecast for 2016. Following the initial turbulence reported by some retailers during the week following the EU referendum vote, the latest index results suggest e-retailers had a successful summer, with many reporting normal trading patterns for this time of year. It appears the weak pound has helped boost international sales for some merchants who have reported buoyant sales from customers outside the UK, with countries within the Eurozone showing particularly strong growth.

“The shift towards smartphones as the preferred device for online shopping continues, with almost half of all mobile commerce sales now completed on these devices and annual growth rates on smartphones around 14x higher than those recorded on tablets year-to-date.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, management consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini , said: “It’s reassuring to see consumer confidence remain buoyant – a growth of 16% on the year is extremely strong. Mobile continues to impress with a near even split between traffic from mobile and desktop.

“However, the more interesting element is how conversion from smartphones continue to increase, it was under 1% last year and is now nearly 2%. Soon it will double again, and if retailers can hold their traffic and drive that level of conversion then it will not be long before mobile overtakes desktop in online sales. As always, a seamless cross-channel and device journey is key to ensure market share gains are driven at a customer level and not just isolated to one channel.”

Last month saw online-only retailers outperform their multichannel counterparts, which trade through stores and online. Pureplays enjoyed annual growth of 22%, compared to 13% for multichannel retailers.

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