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Online sales show double digit growth, but the store was the star in September

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Online sales put in double-digit growth in September, new figures from the British Retail Consortium show. Online grew by 14.2% and contributed 1.4 percentage points to the growth of non-food sales in September, compared to the previous year. But that contribution was outweighed by that of stores, which enjoyed brisk Bank Holiday trading. In total, non-food sales grew by 3.7% over the three months to September.

In September alone, online sales represented 17.7% of all non-food retail transactions. That was 0.5% ahead of September 2014, the smallest increase since April 2014.

‘Although bricks and mortar shops were the stars this month with great sales strength, online is proving itself to be a successful steady contributor to overall sales all year round,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium . “September’s online furniture sales were particularly fruitful with the best sales growth since records began in December 2012. Some exclusively online retailers are now opening physical shops in attempts to connect with more customers and showcase products in the way only shops with a front door can.”

Meanwhile, total UK retail sales grew by 3.9% in total in September, or 2.6% on a like-for-like basis, when the effect of store openings and closures was stripped out.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG , said: “Online sales sprung back up in September with non-food online sales increasing 14.2% as consumers returned from summer holidays and some bouts of wetter weather persuading shoppers to browse the virtual aisles rather than hitting the high streets.

“In particular, retailers saw positive responses to both end-of season-sales as well as the launch of new ranges for health and beauty products.

“Looking ahead, retailers will no doubt be putting online systems through their final paces to ensure all the channels are ready for the all-important Black Friday and run up to the festive season.”

However, figures from Visa suggested leisure and entertainment activities won the lion’s share of consumer spending. Within retail, the Markit-compiled Visa Expenditure Index found that ecommerce sales (+5.8%) grew faster than high street spending, which remained flat.

Kevin Jenkins, UK and Ireland managing director at Visa Europe said: “Consumers maximised the last of the summer and the camaraderie of the major sporting events in September, with spend at pubs and on entertainment roaring ahead. September was in fact the best month for the entertainment sector in terms of sales growth since last August.

“Clothing retailers were also winners in September. Poor weather in the second half of the month encouraged consumers to ready themselves for the beginning of autumn while also buying last minute school uniforms for the new term. Online retailers profited in particular as consumers capitalised on home deliveries. The high street will be looking for signs of an autumn fillip though after a flat September. With Christmas only 74 days away, any further sign of consumer confidence will be a welcome boost.”

Image: (c) Myst

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