UK online sales boosted by fashion - IMRG
Finally, some good news for the UK retail sector, or for e-tailers at least, although it may not be such good news for physical stores. January’s online clothing sales rose 16.8%, the strongest New Year result since 2013.
And the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index showed that total e-tail turnover rose 13.9% as other categories skewed the final figure downwards. Electricals, for instance, were up only 4.4%, although that was still seen as a good figure in the post-Christmas month.
The overall decrease between December and January was 20.5%, which was also a good result. A fall is always to be expected at this time of year and it was the lowest drop since 2013.
But, as mentioned, the boost to e-tail might not be such good news for physical stores. January had seen the lowest footfall in five years as consumer caution and plenty of rain diverted consumers from store trips.
Focusing on the positives though, that near-17% clothing sales rise online highlighted the ongoing migration to the web for the fashion sector. IMRG said that footwear, menswear and womenswear all kept up with five-year average growth rates last month, so there’s clearly no loss of momentum, even though the sector is maturing.
This solid start to the year was secured in spite of a dip in the overall market conversion rate to +4.3% from +4.5% last year as customers spend more time browsing before purchasing. Sales via smartphones also rose at a lower rate than last year, but with a rise of 39.3% year-on-year in January, growth is still super-fast.
IMRG managing director Justin Opie said that near-14% growth for January represents “a strong start to the year, arguably even surprisingly so.”
He said the economic climate remains challenging, with inflation remaining at 3% and an interest rate rise anticipated over the next few months. "The impact on retail was very apparent in January, with several very large retailers announcing store closures and job cuts – high street footfall also fell to a five-year low for January. Yet online appeared to benefit from that. It may be that, as we enter 2018, we are seeing signs of an acceleration of the general move over to online, putting pressure on those retailers with large store portfolios to sharpen their focus on rolling out their digital strategy.”
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