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E-retail retains growth despite damp April

By Retail Technology | Wednesday July 4 2012

April showers dampen desire for summer wares, but Index maintains double-digit April growth

UK shoppers spent an estimated £5.7 billion online in April, constituting year-on-year growth of 10%, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

This growth level was lower than IMRG and Capgemini’s 13% estimate for the year. But the organisations said April 2011 was still a strong performing month, boosted by the Royal Wedding, with the market recording 19% growth and beer, wine and spirits up 55%.

While the market managed double-digit growth, the wettest April on record clearly impacted upon consumers’ desires to update their summer wardrobes as the clothing sector recorded growth of just 1%, the lowest in the 11 years it has been tracked in the Index.

This is some contrast with April 2011, which was the warmest April since 1910. The soggy weather did however have a positive impact on the travel sector, which saw sales jump 20% year-on-year, as Brits flocked online to search for dryer destinations.

M-commerce surge continues

As more and more retailers offer mobile-optimised websites to attract busy shoppers with easy and fast browsing/ordering, payment and delivery options, the number of Brits converting to mobile transactions increases. As a visible outcome of this developing consumer trend, m-commerce in April registered a huge spike of 353% year-on-year, according to the IMRG m-Retail Sales Index.

The average conversion rate of m-commerce has been improving as well. The conversion rate for m-retail in April (those shoppers that visit a retail site via a mobile device and make a purchase from it) was only 2.4% lower than the e-retail conversion rate, at 1.3%, compared with 0.8% in April last year. This suggests that shoppers who would previously only browse mobile stores to check for bargains and compare prices, are now actually also making purchases via the channel.

E-retail weathering the storm

Chris Webster, head of retail and technology at Capgemini, commented: “Consumers continue their steady march to migrate their purchases online, which means that the High Street suffers the brunt of a slackening economy. Mobile commerce continues to surge ahead as the latest shopping trend of customers on the go. It would be a good strategic move for multichannel retailers to power ahead with m-commerce and include it in their portfolio.”

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “The slowdown in sales of clothing over recent months may be an indication that this sector is showing signs of reaching maturity. Year-to-date sales of clothing are up 10% year-on-year, compared with 28% annual growth recorded in the period January to April last year.”

On a more positive note, sales of electricals were at their strongest level in over 18 months and reaching year-on-year growth of 26%, which was the highest since August 2010. “No doubt boosted by sales of the recently launched iPad 3,” Spooner added.

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