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Established 1996
Sunday 23 February 2020


Online sales back up to 20% of total retail

Written by Peter Walker

In July, online retailing accounted for 19.9 per cent of total retail sales, compared with 18.9 per cent in June, with an overall growth of 12.7 per cent versus the same month a year earlier.  

This is according to the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, which showed e-commerce growth for all sectors except department stores. The decline of 1.3 per cent for department stores comes compared to strong growth of 34.4 per cent during the same month in 2018.

The month-on-month movement also showed growth of 5.4 per cent, with non-store retailing reporting the strongest online sales growth of 9.5 per cent. Promotional offers online helped to boost sales for non-store retailers according to feedback from this sector, stated the ONS.

Overall, during the three months to July, the quantity bought in retail sales increased by just 0.5 per cent compared with the previous three months, with food stores and fuel stores seeing a decline.

Month-on-month, sales rose only 0.2 per cent, although there was strong growth of 6.9 per cent in non-store retailing.

Department stores’ growth increased for the first time this year, with a month-on-month growth of 1.6 per cent – following six consecutive months of decline, partly due to store closures.

Department store retailers have suggested that new clothes lines, in addition to extra promotions have helped with sales for this month, noted the ONS.

Andrew Westbrook, partner and head of retail at audit, tax and consulting firm RSM, said that while the uptick in sales was marginal, it was still a pleasant surprise.

“This begs the question – is equilibrium on the high street being restored? The number of empty and vacant units has peaked, does this mean the remaining retailers can start to see daylight ahead?” he asked.

“One area which saw a sizeable rise in July was in the weekly online spend versus the same month last year – this marked growth continues due to many retailers extending summer sales to reduce stock levels ahead of bringing in autumn and winter ranges,” continued Westbrook.

“This continues the trend of non-store retail expanding in the UK retail space, given this growth in online sales, traditional retailers without a genuine multi-channel offering are now looking increasingly at risk.”


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