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Sales lifted online and offline in August: ONS

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Online sales grew by 15.6% in August, compared to the same time last year, as shoppers spent an average £1.1bn a week online, according to official figures out today, while overall sales grew by 2.4% on last year, and 1% on last month.

The figures come a day after etail trade association the IMRG reported a bumper August for online retailers, with sales up by 16% – and appear to confirm the positive trend.

The ONS figures found that 16.4% of all retail sales took place online.

Online grocery sales grew by 13.8%, with 5.3% of all retail sales in this category taking place over the internet. The fastest online growth was seen at department stores, where ecomemrce lifted by 24.5% to account for 15% of all sales in this category.

A similar proportion of sales (15.1%) took place online at textile, clothing and footwear retailers, where internet sales grew by 20.1%. Some 11.3% of household goods sales took place online, after growth of 5.2%.

Commenting on the figures, Harley Finkelstein, COO, of Shopify, said: “It’s exciting to see that the figures released today from the ONS report indicate such healthy growth in retail sales. Knowing that ecommerce represents over 15% of overall retail sales in the UK paints a clear picture of how retail is evolving and the technology that’s needed to support this change.”

Chris Reilly, managing director at My Voucher Codes, said: “There is no surprise that retail sales have risen by 1% in August 2017, the industry is continuing to grow, especially online. Now shopping is easier, less time consuming and doesn’t have to be planned. Consumers are looking online for inspiration and in turn continuing to go ahead with more purchases.

Customers are finding ways to be able to buy from non-food stores as well as factor all of their spending in to their monthly salaries through discounts, budgeting and sales. It seems that we are adapting to the way our economy is changing.”

David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero, said the figures suggest Britain’s favourite department stores are beginning to attract more online shoppers as well as loyal High Street customers. “Britain’s consumers have always valued department stores for their expertise and after sales service. Today’s ONS figures show that they are finally beginning to bring together their expertise with a more competitive approach to pricing online.

“The ONS figures show shoppers bought an un-exciting 0.7% more items from High Street department stores in August; there’s clearly not much chance for growth there currently. But when we look at their boom in online sales, up by a quarter in one year, it’s obvious that our favourite department stores are finally combining service and expertise with competitive prices.”

But not every department store has been a winner. House of Fraser recorded widening losses and a drop in like-for-like sales in its half-year report released today. David said: “House of Fraser’s half year results included a disappointing online drop of 9.8% over the same period last year; so it hasn’t matched the encouraging industry trend for the rest of the UK’s department stores’ online sales.”

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