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February online sales favour pureplays

By Retail Technology | Monday March 17 2014

Wet weather appears to drive shoppers online as UK online retail sales go from strength to strength, with the latest Index up 18% year-on-year

The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have found UK online shopping sales recorded a solid performance with an 18% annual increase.

Equating to an estimated £7.2 billion spent online, the Index reflects the ongoing consumer confidence in the wider online retail sector, with m-retail also reporting 66% year-on-year growth.

The results demonstrate that, despite a precipitous slowdown in High Street sales in February, down 5.3% on March 2013 according to the British Retail Consortium, pureplay e-tailers won out during the recent wet weather.

Sector and pureplay growth

Pureplays, or online-only/catalogue retailers, recorded an annual growth of 22% in February, the strongest year-on-year growth for three years and far exceeding their multichannel counterparts, who recorded growth of just 16%.

Valentine’s Day also helped boost sales in the online retail sectors traditionally associated with romantic presents. Lingerie recorded a year-on-year increase of 24%, while Health & Beauty, which includes perfume and cosmetics, reported 25% growth on the same time last year.
The Index also recorded strong online sales in home and garden, which was attributed to an increasingly healthy housing market. With homeowners spending on new furniture and accessories, the sector reported a 26% increase on February 2013.
Ahead of expectations

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, commented: “Growth in the UK e-retail sector shows no sign of abating, with the Index performance coming in ahead of our expectations last month. In fact, looking at the combined results for January and February it is evident that we have seen the strongest start to the year since 2011. 

“The exceptionally wet weather during February undoubtedly helped boost online sales as shoppers shunned the High Street. It is interesting to see the pureplay merchants not only outperformed the multichannel retailers in terms of year-on-year e-retail growth, but also recorded a 6% annual rise in average transaction value. Conversely, the average online order value for the multichannel merchants remained unchanged from February last year.”
Chris Webster, vice president and head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, added: “The continued growth of e-retail demonstrates the overall strength of consumer confidence and leads one to believe the disappointing February overall figures are most likely a result of the wet weather. Strong spending on home and garden and lingerie for Valentine’s Day also shows people investing in homes and relationships further increasing the feel good factor.
“As a small aside, it is would be nice to know if the strong increase in footwear year-on-year was caused by a surge in demand for wellies and waders; unfortunately, there are some things our e-Retail Index cannot tell.”

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