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Online sales up by just 7% in September’s warm spell: IMRG

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Online sales grew slowly in September, IMRG figures out today suggest – further evidence that an Indian summer held back shoppers from updating their winter wardrobes.

Ecommerce sales were up by just 7% last month, compared to the same time last year, the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index found. It said growth was at its lowest since 2010, with markedly slow growth in the clothing sector. Apparel sales were up by just 0.3% in September compared to the same time last year. That alone is the lowest rate of growth ever recorded by the index. Footwear sales also slowed, growing by 4.5% on last time.

“The unseasonably warm weather last month clearly had a negative effect on the online retail industry with apparel merchants in particular seeing a significant impact on sales,” said Tina Spooner, chief infomration officer at etail’s trade association, the IMRG . “As clothing and fashion merchants launched their autumn/winter ranges, temperatures during September reached levels significantly above early autumn averages so it is no surprise that winter coats and boots were not at the top of our online shopping lists.”

The figures come a day after the British Retail Consortium estimated online growth of 8.2% in September.

In all, UK shoppers spent an estimated £8.2bn last month. Multichannel retailers, according to the IMRG’s analysis, fared better, together reporting 8% growth during the month. But pureplays saw sales rise by just 5%.

“This month has also yet again highlighted the relative strength of multichannel versus online propositions, with a year-on-year LFL (like-for-like) performance for multichannel retailers that is 80 per cent higher that their pure-play online counterparts,” said Adgild Hop, principal, head of retail consulting at Capgemini .

However, some categories had a more buoyant month. Electrical sales, for example, were up by 15% on last year, as new releases, including the iPhone 6 range, stirred consumer interest. Sales of accessories grew by 48%, and home and garden was up by 17%, with alcohol up by 16% – perhaps benefitting from the warm weather.

Mobile commerce grew less quickly than in previous months, expanding by a relatively modest 29%. Putting that in context, the previous all-time low recorded by the index was 36%.

But Spooner said the IMRG was more optimistic about the run up to Christmas. “As we enter the fourth quarter and retailers prepare for the key festive trading period, we expect growth levels to return to the consistent double-digit figures we have seen throughout 2014,” she said.

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