Ecommerce has weakest August since 2000

The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed that UK online retail sales were up just 5 per cent year-on-year in August and down 6 per cent on July. Although the good news is,the Index has still seen an increase of 10 per cent in 2015 so far.

Whilst it follows a particularly strong August 2014 (18 per cent), it does mark the weakest performing August since the launch of the Index in 2000; potentially the result of a later Bank Holiday (which will be included in the September Index results this year) and a delay in back-to-school shopping.

Low growth was recorded across a number of sectors in August, including clothing. Despite a slightly turbulent start to the year, clothing experienced a return to double digit growth in June (18 per cent) and July (14 per cent). However, online sales of clothing recorded an annual growth of just 5 per cent last month; its lowest ever performance for the month of August.

Accessories, which is traditionally one of the more robust and stable sectors, saw an increase of just 14 per cent; its lowest increase since August 2009. Sales of electrical items continued its run of limited growth – whilst August saw an increase of 6 per cent on July, it recorded a 1 per cent drop on the same period last year, its weakest YoY performance in 2015. However there were more positive figures recorded in the health & beauty, gifts, and home sectors, which were up 30 per cent, 23 per cent and 31 per cent YoY respectively.

Sales made via a mobile device saw an increase of 33 per cent in August. The Index revealed an emerging trend in regard to the split of mobile device used for making online sales. In 2014, smartphones accounted for 20 per cent of m-retail sales, compared to 80 per cent made via a tablet device. In 2015, the balance has shifted, with 28 per cent of sales made via a smartphone, compared to 72 per cent made on a tablet.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer, IMRG said, “2015 was slow to start for online retail sales, and we wondered whether we had entered a new phase of lower growth when the Index recorded its first-ever quarter of single-digit growth (+7 per cent) in Q1. However, growth has been far more positive since then and it’s likely that the record August low was actually a blip caused by a number of factors. A feature of 2015 has been lower average basket values, but over the past two months these have recovered and conversion rates remain at their highest level in years as we approach the crucial peak period.

Looking ahead, we expect September’s Index results to be back on track with our 2015 growth forecast, considering it will on the back of single-digit growth during September 2014.