Sales up in December, and 2016 overall: IMRG

According to the latest results from the IMRG Cap Gemini eRetail Sales Index, while online retail increased 11.3 per cent in December, overall shoppers spent £130 billion online in 2016, 16 per cent up on the previous year.

Despite the year on year increase for December however, month on month the performance of the Index was down 11.1 per cent.

Excluding travel, the Index recorded annual growth of 10.3 per cent and a monthly decline of 11.7 per cent from November. The total market saw actual growth for 2016 of 15.9 per cent. In other news, the electricals market reported its lowest growth since IMRG began tracking the sector in 2003, with minus 19.3 per cent. Many believe that this was the result of the November sales.

It was predicted that 2016 would be the year that smartphones would take their place as a major retail channel and the IMRG figures suggest this could be thanks to the fast growth of smartphone sales. The IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index says the growth went well beyond the 11 per cent it predicted at the start of the year and reversed a trend of declining growth rates.

Shoppers spent more than £130 billion online in 2016, some 16 per cent, or £18 billion, more than the same time last year. Some £25bn was spent on ecommerce over the Christmas period (from November 13 to December 24) alone, according to the latest figures. The IMRG and Capgemini now predict that in 2017, shoppers will spend 14 per cent more than they did in 2016.

Mobile growth?

Sales via smartphones grew by 47 per cent, year-on-year in December, according to Index, and accounted for 54 per cent of all sales made via a mobile device. Tablets accounted for the other 46 per cent.

A year earlier, smartphones were behind just 39 per cent of sales via a mobile device. This year, sales made via a tablet were down by 3 per cent, year-on-year.

Justin Opie, managing director, at IMRG said, “Following a below-expectation year in 2015, online sales growth has shot back up to an extent that seemed highly unlikely at the start of the year. There are two key factors driving this. The first is that Black Friday became an ‘online’ event in 2015, and this seems to have had a lasting effect on people’s shopping behaviour and preferences – our Index has recorded strong growth for online sales ever since that day. The second is that sales through smartphones are continuing to grow at a very strong rate, which is increasing the times and places in which people can browse and engage with online retailers.”

Which sectors fared best – and worst?

Accessories and lingerie sales grew fastest online in 2016, growing by 38 per cent and 33 per cent respectively. Gifts (+26 per cent) and footwear (+21 per cent) both exceeded the index’s average growth rate. But online sales in the health and beauty sector fell by 3 per cent.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini said, “2016 was a turbulent year with a number of predictions for retail and beyond going against the status quo. Regardless, it was still a record breaking year for online sales – up 16 per cent on 2015.

“Few would have anticipated the decline in sales made on tablets, but with sales made through overall mobile devices generating over 50 per cent of visits, combined with the sweeping growth of both visits and conversions from smartphones, mobile continues to head towards being the number one sales channel.

“2017 will be filled with a level of uncertainty depending on the progress and impact of Brexit, however with the investment retailers are making in improving the customer shopping experience, I am sure it will be another record breaking year for online sales.”