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UK ecommerce growth slumped after England was knocked out of the World Cup: IMRG

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Online spending slumped after England was knocked out of the World Cup, says the IMRG, in figures released today. As a result, online sales grew by just 10%, overall, in July, compared to the same time last year, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index for the month. That’s below the three (+14.7%), six (+15%) and 12 month (+12.7%) averages tracked by the index. 

Spending appears to have held up until England exited from the semi-finals of the World Cup, against Croatia, on July 11: the IMRG figures suggest that ecommerce grew by 14.4% in the first week of July, before falling back to growth of +3.7%, +8.6% and +5.1% in the remaining three weeks of the month. That’s despite Amazon Prime Day, a 36-hour event that launched fully on July 16 after several weeks of related deals. 

Bhavesh, Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement at Capgemini, said that a peak in conversion rate seen around last year’s Prime Day had not been repeated this year. “Combined with the decrease in overall site views and the highest increase in July basket value in over five years, it suggests retailers have had to focus less on discounting and clearance; an effect of lower price-points throughout the year due to the competitive nature of the high street combined with good weather driving early summer spending,” he said.

“This month’s slowdown could also serve as a reality check for the outlook ahead. GFK has reported a decline in consumer confidence index the month and the major purchase index decreased two points to -2. The interest rate hike could also impact the amount of disposable income people have to spend, while consumers are being more cautious after high credit card spend over the summer. After the boost from this summer’s sunshine and events, retailers need to focus hard on winning the battle for spend and share of wallet as the second half will be highly competitive with less transactions ringing through the ‘online’ tills.”

IMRG data suggests clothing was particularly hard hit: at +7.5% this was the sector’s lowest growth of the year and well below the five-year average of 11.8%. It includes year-on-year falls in footwear (-30.6%) and accessories (-13.4%). Sales of garden equipment (+22.4%), however, continued to rise, reflecting continuing warm temperatures. 

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: “The British weather is often the cause of much misery or joy for British retail and July was no different. The main beneficiary of the prolonged heatwave in July was the garden sector, which is in contrast with recent difficulties experienced by some on the high street. Shoppers keen to capitalise on the sunshine focused their attention on gardening products, which was also to the detriment of the home sector, which reported a year-on-year decrease of 5.8%.”

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