Online deliveries slid in February, with more arriving late after snow-delays: IMRG
Online deliveries fell back in February, compared to January, while more ecommerce orders arrived late – thanks to the Beast from the East, new data suggests.
Overall order volumes were up by 7% year-on-year, but while a month-on-month drop from January is usual, the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index found the scale of of the fall was greater than usual, at -21%.
IMRG says that the month-on-month drop may show February sales suffering in comparison with January, when online order volumes were at their highest since 2013.
But at the same time, there was an unseasonal decline in the percentage of orders arriving on time. The index typically records a recovery in the on-time rate in January and February, as volumes reduce and the industry is under less strain. But in February just under 88% of orders arrived on time. That's down from 90% in January – and was, says IMRG, certainly influenced by the heavy snow fall across the country.
Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics at IMRG , said: “The huge surge in online retail orders placed in January, when online appeared to benefit from footfall to high streets hitting a five-year January low, appears to have flowed through to lower February volumes. The retail landscape was looking pretty bleak toward the end of 2018 due to the continuing squeeze on shopper spend, but inflation eased in February so people may start to feel a bit more confident in terms of how they use their discretionary spend. The extreme weather conditions experienced in February have clouded start of year performance trends so it is difficult to predict the outlook for online retail overall at the moment.”
Also noted in the IMRG figures was a change in the type of delivery service options used. Over the past two years more retailers have promoted next-day delivery, encouraging more shoppers to take up this option. The split of economy (2-3 days and over) and next-day varies at different times of year, but February 2018 saw the largest percentage of orders using next-day for the month of February in six years.
Maria Dahlqvist Canton, global marketing director at MetaPack , added: "The other significant finding from this month’s index is that cross-border volumes and order values remain strong, especially for EU destinations. This reflects the volume increases that we saw throughout last year, and we fully expect it to continue unless there is a change in exchange rates, in which case experience tells us that cross-border orders will fluctuate.”