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Online sales growth strongest in 13 years

By Retail Technology | Thursday October 17 2013

Latest e-retail sales figures show steepest monthly rise between August and September since Index began, while nearly a quarter of mobile sales were via smartphones

Figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index show the online retail market recorded a rise between August and September of 13%, the highest growth for this period in the 13-year history of the Index.

This is the second Index-lifetime record broken this year, following the first negative online growth ever recorded between June and July (-2%), though the organisations compiling the Index said this contraction was heavily influenced by the prolonged heatwave in the UK.

And there was further positive news following this week’s bumper Christmas retail sales prediction from Verdict in the run-up to the peak trading period, as the average Index basket value also reached a high point from June 2012.

Signs of positive growth

The Index was up 20% overall year-on-year in September, as online sales continued to rise ahead of expectation, driven by the increasing use of mobile devices as part of the purchase journey.

Almost a quarter of mobile device sales (23%) were through smartphones in September. The Index partners, e-retail members trade body IMRG and systems integrator Capgemini, split tablet and smartphone sales in August for the first time, when smartphones only accounted for 15% of mobile device sales. The organisations said it was too early to identify a definite trend yet, but that they would monitor progress over the coming months.

Tina Spooner, IMRG chief information officer, commented: “The latest Index results are encouraging as we enter the fourth quarter [Q4], with retailers preparing for the crucial festive trading period. The record monthly growth in September is an indication of increasing consumer confidence and with smartphone year-on-year sales growth reaching an impressive 150%, it is also evident that shoppers are becoming more comfortable with shopping via their mobile devices. 

“Year-to-date the UK e-retail sector has grown 16% compared with the same period in 2012 and we anticipate the sector will continue to record double-digit growth during Q4.”

Strong sector sales recovery

The clothing sector recorded a sharp 18% rise compared to this time last year, and the highest growth rate this year for this sector since June. A number of sectors recorded strong growth levels, including lingerie (30%) accessories (20%) and footwear (20%). And the electrical sector also picked up in terms of year-on-year growth, following periods of low growth over the summer, as the result of new technology and next generation smartphone sales.

Chris Webster, vice president and head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, said: “This month’s Index is a good indicator that we are headed towards economic recovery and a great sign for a strong Christmas. The fact that e-retail has seen its sharpest period of growth for September suggests that consumers are shopping with confidence. In addition, September’s three-year high in the average clothing basket value is a clear sign that retailers are selling through at full price, giving even more confidence to the economic recovery.” 

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