Shoppers spent an estimated £1bn a week online with UK retailers during February, according to official figures out this week. That’s 20.7% up on the same month last year, and 3.3% up on the previous month of January, and accounted for 15.3% of all retail spending.
Ecommerce growth was well ahead of retail sales growth, according to the Office for National Statistics’ Retail Sales report for February. It estimated that sales, excluding petrol, rose by 5.1% on last February, and by 1.7% on last month.
Kate Davies, ONS senior statistician, said: “February’s retail sales figures show fairly strong growth, though the underlying three-month picture shows falling sales as February’s figures follow two consecutive months of decline in December and January. The monthly growth in February is seen across all store types. The underlying trend suggests that rising petrol prices in particular have had a negative effect on the overall quantity of goods bought over the last three months.”
Online food sales grew by 14% to account for 4.9% of all sales in the category. Fast online growth was also seen at household goods stores, where internet spending grew by 23.1% to account for 10.5% of all retail sales. Department stores saw online growth of 10.4%, to account 13.7% of all sales, while textile, clothing and footwear stores saw sales grow by 12.5% to account for 14.5% of all spending.
Commenting, Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at Salmon , said: “What is clear from ONS’s February retail stats is how online sales are gaining traction, with an increase of over 20% compared to the same time last year. Although this is nothing new, it does emphasise how shoppers’ attitudes are changing and hammers home the benefits that having an online, multichannel offering can bring; after all, the amount spent online for all retail was 2% higher than February 2016, which we expect grow exponentially year-by-year. Online and mobile shopping are no longer just part of the ‘multichannel’ mix but the focus of it. As more and more consumers use online services to streamline their lives, it is essential that retailers provide a strong digital offering. After all, consumers respect and remain loyal to brands that make their busy lives easier.
“As the power of e- and m-commerce continues to grow, retailers must ensure they have a robust digital strategy in place to cater to growing user demand. But rather than treating digital strategy in isolation, businesses must digitise their whole business strategy to ensure that both front and back end digital innovation delivers true business value. Those that lag behind from fear of change must combat this to ensure they have an exceptional online offering to deliver true competitive advantage and future-proof their business.”