UK online sales grew by 16.4% in August – as the month saw the strongest retail growth of the year so far, according to IMRG analysis.
Average basket values were the highest seen in August for five years, reaching £130, according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Sales Index for the month.
Strong growth came in the home sector, where online sales grew by 20.5%, year-on-year, while clothing sales grew by 17.9% – the strongest performance for the sector in 2017 and with an average basket value up by £9 compared to the previous August. The rise comes as inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, rose by 2.9% in August, while clothing and footwear prices rose by 4.6%. Online sales of electricals, however, were down for the fifth month in a row, which the IMRG says is the longest sustained period of negative growth for the sector since it started to track it in 2003.
Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini , said: “With the first half of the year marred by consumer uncertainty around Brexit and the general election, retailers must be hugely encouraged by the August results. After a strong July where those in the industry were forced to up their game to compete with Amazon Prime Day, could we be seeing a continuation of their discount strategies paying off? Or is it the Brits’ reawakened love of a staycation that is the real driving factor – something that the stand-out successes of the home and clothing sectors would certainly indicate.
“As we move into the winter months, it is vital that retailers maintain their efforts to keep the results on an upwards trend. Despite this month’s success, and even at their 2017 peak, the figures were down by 4% on August of the previous year – there is still a way to go if retailers want to round out the year successfully.”
Across sectors, multichannel retailers as a group enjoyed growth of 17%, following three months of single-digit only growth which itself came for the first time since February 2015.
Justin Opie, managing director, IMRG , said: “Online sales growth for multichannel retailers has been on a general downward trend in recent months and, while it’s too early to say whether this spike indicates the start of a reversal to this trend, there are other data-points that may help us understand what is happening. During Q2 of this year, click and collect penetration exceeded 30% of online orders for multichannel retailers.
“The IMRG Blujay Home Delivery review 2017 further indicated that the ability to combine click and collect with other shopping activity was the second most popular reason for choosing it. It’s possible that this points toward a shift in how people are shopping in a more focused way across online and offline, perhaps spending less time actually browsing high street shops – a drop in high street footfall was reported in August, while like-for-like high street retail was up – but looking to take advantage of retailers’ store portfolios where convenient for them.”