Online sales slump to lowest ever July growth

Following a month of improved sales in June, retailers failed to maintain the positive momentum in July, with online sales growth slowing to just 4.4 per cent year-on-year and falling by 5.7 per cent month-on-month.

The latest IMRG and Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, revealed that despite hot weather and online shopping events like Amazon Prime Day, the figures represented the lowest ever July year-on-year increase.

Delving into the categories, clothing sales followed a similar pattern to the overall result, with positive growth of 4.5 per cent failing to match June’s 2019 high of 15.7 per cent. After recording its strongest performance of the year in June (31.2 per cent), menswear saw a significant drop in growth to just 10.4 per cent. Meanwhile, both accessories and womenswear were down (by 13.3 per cent and 8.7 per cent respectively) with the average womenswear basket value decreasing by a third compared to last year.

Good weather did little to boost home and garden, both of which recorded negative growth in July. With no World Cup to spark celebrations and commiserations, beer, wine and spirits sales were also down 19.7 per cent compared to last July (up 32.9 per cent), while garden sales also fell by 44.6 per cent - compared to 22 per cent growth in 2018 - contributing to a low overall growth for home and garden of 5.4 per cent.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: “Online sales growth had been subdued throughout the first half of 2019, but in June there seemed to be a bit of a bounce-back that hinted toward growth picking up again.

“However, there is now evidence that the June performance was artificially inflated by heavy discounting to stimulate sales activity, and it seems likely that some of that volume was pulled forward from July.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement at Capgemini, explained that over the last three months pure online retailers have fared better than multichannel players online, maintaining consistent growth above eight per cent.

“This compares to a much more volatile performance, jumping from 0.1 per cent to eight per cent in May to June, and four per cent in July, indicating that multichannel online sales are more sensitive to sales activity as consumers seek out the best deals.”

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