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Sunny skies and Diamond Jubilee fuel May rise in online sales

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Online sales picked up in May when they grew by 13%, according to the latest figures from the IMRG. Warmer weather and Diamond Jubilee celebrations fuelled the rise, according to the etail trade association.

The latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index showed that British shoppers spent an estimated £6bn online last month. That works out at an average of £117 per person and represents growth of 13% compared to the same month last year, and 5% compared to the previous month, April. IMRG has forecast that the sector as a whole will grow by 13% during 2012 but in April sales grew only by 10%, year-on-year.

The IMRG index showed that pureplay retailers outperformed their multichannel counterparts for the fifth month in a row. Retailers with an online-only presence saw growth of 19%, but those with both an online and a high-street presence recorded just 10%. This emerging trend is in contrast to the last two years, where multi-channel retailers benefitted from customer loyalty and trust.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “The overall growth in the e-retail sector last month was positive, resulting in 13% overall growth year-to-date in 2012, exactly in line with the IMRG/Capgemini forecast. For the fifth consecutive month the Index reveals online-only/catalogue retailers have outperformed high street/multichannel retailers in terms of annual growth.

“There appears to be an interesting trend emerging between these two groups of retailers and each month the gap is widening. This may be an indicator that consumers who previously only shopped online with trusted high street brands are becoming more trusting of the lesser-known pure-plays.”

Growth sectors in May included clothing, up by 11% year-on-year, electricals, ( 22% year-on-year), gifts (39%) and health and beauty (33%).

Chris Webster, head of retail and technology at Capgemini, said: “It is encouraging to see overall growth returning to all sectors of eRetail. The battle between online-only retailers and their multi-channel counterparts continues apace with online-only leading the charge in 2012 after two years where multi-channel retailers have led the way.”

Amanda McGillivray, managing director at The Natural Skincare Company, said: “May was a bumper month for The Natural Skincare Co with sales reaching their highest level compared to previous years. We have been looking at niche markets and mail order this year and believe that this has helped sales grow for us.”

Ryan Kemp, head of merchant services UK for Shopping.com, said: “Despite the mixed weather in May, consumers were determined to enjoy themselves and gear up for the Queen’s Jubilee. Heaters topped the list for shoppers, along with garden tools and cosmetics, while clothing showed strong year on year growth too. Tablets also showed strong growth yet again as more and more people shop via a mobile device from home or on the move.”

Mobile commerce grew by 359% in May, compared to last year, and the mobile conversion rate, excluding travel retailers, rose to its highest level yet, of 1.8%.

Capgemini’s Evans said: “Rising mobile conversion rates demonstrate that shopper’s willingness to browse on a mobile device is converting into transactions and purchases. This means retailers are refreshing their mobile-enabled websites to catch shoppers on the go and in a way that builds consumer trust.”

IMRG’s Spooner added: “While this growth is predominantly driven by sales via tablet devices, it is evident that consumers’ use of smartphones as a research tool in-store is also increasing.”

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