Highest January online retail spend in seven years

Online retail sales in the UK grew 12 per cent year-on-year in January, according to the latest IMRG-Capgemini figures – marking the highest online retail spending in January for seven years.

The represents a steady start for the year for online sales, building on the January 2016 growth of 15 per cent.

The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index also showed that the average basket value (ABV) for online retailers was £85 in January 2017 – up from £79 a year earlier and making it the highest value for that month since January 2010. By comparison, the average in 2016 was £81.

While multiple sectors – including clothing, gifts and accessories – recorded a rise in ABV, the electricals sector dropped to £129, down 12 per cent on January last year. The same sector also continued its recent run of low growth with online sales down nine per cent year-on-year, falling for the second month running.

Meanwhile, sales growth for clothing retailers was up 11 per cent – a respectable figure, but actually the lowest growth rate for this sector since March 2016. Growth for the gifts sector was at an eight-year high however, up 62 per cent during the same period, making it the highest growth for this sector since December 2009.

Justin Opie, managing director at IMRG, said: “January’s figures reveal a steady start to the year, but 2017 is not without its challenges for online retailers. The most pressing one relates to the devaluation of the pound following Brexit, as it means price rises are looming for an industry where retailers often get pressured into a cycle of discounting to stimulate sales activity among customers.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini, added: “A growth rate of 12 per cent for online retail is pretty strong. However, when compared with the growth rate for the last quarter, it has certainly steadied. The rise in inflation will raise caution among shoppers and with price hikes expected across petrol, electricals and food, this caution will remain for some time to come.

“The focus for retailers in 2017 should be on ensuring they can capture as much of the UK market share as they can, as well as exploiting international sales, should the pound weaken.”

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