Fashion suffers slow October e-sales as shoppers research rather than buy
October may have seen a wipeout on the UK high street but was online any stronger? Yes it was, but e-tail sales were still subdued last month and fashion was among the biggest categories to suffer.
The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail sales Index said Tuesday that menswear and womenswear saw their worst figures since the index began while other categories continued to grow much more strongly.
Overall, e-tail sales rose 12.6% last month and the index recorded the highest October average basket value in nine years at £94. But the growth was disappointing with the year-on-year average for the August to October period as a whole having been higher at 14.3%. And it was down on the five-year October average of 14%.
That’s despite the fact that the high street’s poor performance would typically have suggested a boost for e-commerce sales. There was definitely a pre-Black Friday lull.
The index also showed that the average conversion rate (the percentage of site visitors that complete a purchase) for October was slightly higher than a year ago but lower than the previous three years, which strongly suggests a more research-led focus in the lead-up to the year’s biggest discounting event.
But the sales figures for fashion are very worrying as they show that the gloom in physical store isn’t being countered by an online boom. In fact, menswear saw no growth at all and womenswear was up only 2% year-on-year. Given that inflation is close to 3% and fashion stores have been raising prices, these figures suggest a step backwards for menswear and no real growth for womenswear. It also indicates that discounting may have been a factor in last month’s sales.
Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement, Capgemini, said: “October was a bleak month for retail. You would have expected e-commerce to benefit from a more price-sensitive customer, yet the interest rate hike, the bad weather and anticipation of Black Friday did little to help the cause, covering up October’s truly underwhelming performance if anything.
“These coming three months, October through to December, will be important to view performance as a whole and be indicative of whether people are waiting longer before they spend on Christmas.”
But IMRG MD Justin Opie said that November couple reap the rewards as “we can anticipate that November will convert a degree of that early research into sales. Last year, the conversion rate was 5.1% in November, while it was just 4% in October.”
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