Online sales up to strongest growth this year

With excellent weather and the start of the sale season signalling the arrival of summer, online retail sales rose by 8.5 per cent year-on-year in June, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index.

After a disappointing May, which saw online sales suffer their worst growth on record (up only 1.9 per cent), June’s results represent the strongest growth so far this year, and are well ahead of the three, six and 12-month rolling averages (respectively -0.5 per cent, 5.4 per cent and 6.9 per cent).

Clothing recorded the highest growth so far this year, with a rise of 15.7 per cent, buoyed by good results in both menswear - which saw its strongest performance of 2019 at 31.2 per cent - and womenswear - which reversed last month’s negative growth to achieve an increase of 3.3 per cent versus 2018.

Accessories and footwear did not fare as well, however, with accessories sales declining to their lowest ever June growth (down 7.4 per cent) and footwear also falling by 8.8 per cent.

While further category analysis highlighted positive performances for health and beauty (up 20.4 per cent) and home and garden (up 9.8 per cent), elsewhere the results continued the negative trend for electricals (down 23 per cent), and gifts (down 23.4 per cent).

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said that June can be interpreted as a bounce-back from prior months, particularly given it was building on strong growth of 16.1 per cent in June 2018.

“However, the discounting has been heavy so the margins achieved may not be high – online clothing sales were up 15.7 per cent, but the average basket value for clothing was down by a quarter.

“The key now for retailers is whether they can come out of discounting and maintain a reasonable level of sales growth before we get too close to the Black Friday period,” he continued, adding: “Otherwise we may be in for another difficult peak where the rates of discount are wider and deeper than many retailers would like.”

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