Online mobile sales falter in August
Written by Peter Walker
UK online retail sales held steady this August, as shopper spending achieved 12.8 per cent growth year-on-year, according to the latest IMRG and Capgemini e-retail sales index.
This is in line with the three and 12-month rolling averages, but below the three-month average of 15.3 per cent.
M-retail - smartphones and tablets - growth hit an all-time low of just 10 per cent year-on-year. While smartphone growth still came in at 26.7 per cent, it was the lowest growth since September 2014, and a significant drop on last August’s 53.6 per cent.
Multichannel m-retail growth only just stayed above water with one per cent year-on-year growth, while online-only m-retail growth was up 15 per cent on last year.
Garden sector sales finally slowed down after enjoying blockbuster growth from this year’s heatwave, coming in at 2.8 per cent year-on-year growth, down 43 per cent from July.
Beauty, conversely, had a strong month coming in at 25.3 per cent year-on-year.
Meanwhile, clothing had a mixed month, coming in at 5.4 per cent year-on-year. Curiously, menswear experienced 18.6 per cent growth versus 3 per cent for women.
Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement at Capgemini, said he was expecting a much bigger downturn in August, given the effect of the hot summer and events boosting sales in the previous months.
“The index was down on last month by less than two per cent, the lowest decline compared to last four years, and therefore one of best performance we’ve had coming out of July,” he explained.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said the main driver of growth over the past few years has been smartphone devices. Throughout 2016 sales growth through these devices was typically in the 75-100 per cent range, then in 2017 it gradually slowed down to be in the 40-60 per cent range, but this has continued to decline into 2018.
“This is expected, as very high growth cannot usually be sustained for long periods, but in August three points of note happened,” he stated.
“The first was that smartphone sales growth was at its lowest rate since September 2014 - August 2018 was also the first time it has fallen below the 30 per cent mark since then - the second was that, looking at mobile devices overall, growth was at its lowest ever rate since we started tracking it in 2012, and finally, the weak performance seems to be attributed to the multichannel retailers, who recorded overall mobile device growth of just one per cent, while for the online-only retailers it was up 15 per cent.”