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Weakest August online sales in 15 years, though m-commerce grows quickly: IMRG

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Online sales in August 2015 grew at their weakest rate in 15 years, according to IMRG figures out today.

Ecommerce sales during the month grew by just 5%, year-on-year, with the lowest-ever growth recorded for the clothing sector. M-commerce sales, however, grew by 33%, year-on-year.

The latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index puts UK online retail sales growth for August at 5% year-on-year, and down by 6% compared to July. It’s the weakest-performing August since the index was launched in 2000 and compares strongly to last August, when sales grew by 18%. IMRG says the figures may be down to a later Bank Holiday and a delay in back-to-school shopping. Despite this dip however, the Index has seen a solid year-to-date increase of 10%.

Alex Smith-Bingham, head of digital, consumer products and retail at Capgemini , said: “The height of summer usually drives customers online or in-store to update their wardrobes in preparation for their holidays or simply to make the most of the British sunshine. However, with just 5% growth, for both the clothing sector and the wider industry, the disappointment of August’s performance would have been felt across the whole retail sector. We predict this will be short-lived however, as the late Bank Holiday and back-to-school shopping should give September’s Index a significant boost.”

Low growth was recorded across a number of sectors in August, including clothing (+5%), which previously grew by 18% in June and 14% in July.

Accessories grew by just 14%; its lowest increase since August 2009, while electricals fell by 1% on last year. Health and beauty bucked the trend with 30% growth. Beauty and gifts rose by 23% and the home sector by 31%.

Sales made via a mobile device saw an increase of 33% in August. The Index revealed an emerging trend in regard to the split of mobile device used for making online sales. In 2014, smartphones accounted for 20% of m-retail sales, compared to 80% made via a tablet device. In 2015, the balance has shifted, with 28% of sales made via a smartphone, compared to 72% made on a tablet.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer, IMRG : “2015 was slow to start for online retail sales, and we wondered whether we had entered a new phase of lower growth when the Index recorded its first-ever quarter of single-digit growth (+7%) in Q1. However, growth has been far more positive since then and it’s likely that the record August low was actually a blip caused by a number of factors. A feature of 2015 has been lower average basket values, but over the past two months these have recovered and conversion rates remain at their highest level in years as we approach the crucial peak period.

“Looking ahead, we expect September’s index results to be back on track with our 2015 growth forecast, considering it will be on the back of single-digit growth during September 2014.”

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