Online retail records lowest ever October growth

The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed that online retail sales recorded their lowest year-on-year (YoY) growth for the month of October since the Index launched 15 years ago – up just 8.9 per cent as retailers entered the peak period.

It is likely that this is influenced by expectation of impending Black Friday discounts causing consumers to withhold spending in the hope of lower prices in November.

  • Index registers just 8.9 per cent YoY growth – the lowest annual growth for October since the Index began
  • Clothing, garden and electrical sectors suffer as consumers withhold spending in run up to Black Friday
  • Sectors selling low-cost items have strong month however

Looking at individual sectors, some of those selling higher-cost products such as garden and electricals recorded negative growth in October, with the average electricals basket value down a full 12 per cent on October 2014. Clothing sales growth was also probably impacted by the mild weather last month.

Conversely, sectors that typically have lower average basket values such as accessories, footwear and lingerie recorded a solid performance in October, with an annual increase of 24 per cent, 23 per cent and 19 per cent respectively.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, says, “The ‘pre-peak lag’, where shoppers hold off from making purchases in expectation of bagging a discount over the Black Friday peak, may have started far earlier than last year – as October 2015 growth was significantly down on October 2014. Interestingly though the sectors that typically stock lower-cost items – including accessories, lingerie, footwear, health & beauty and gifts – continue to perform strongly, while some sectors stocking higher-cost items (electricals and garden) recorded negative growth in October.”

Alex Smith-Bingham, Head of Digital, Consumer Products and Retail, Capgemini, said, “Given the level of discounting we saw in 2015 a slow-down in sales during the run up to Black Friday is natural. As customers are delaying their spend, particularly for the high spend items, retailers should consider how to maximise that touch point with the customer for future sales pre or post-Christmas.”

The Index also revealed a significant trend in terms of a growing performance disparity between online only retailers compared to their multichannel counterparts. In October, online-only retailers saw sales increase 18 per cent on the same period last year, 14 percentage points higher than that of multichannel retailers, which recorded just 4 per cent.