Online retailers witness ‘highly encouraging’ sales growth in August

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UK online retailers witnessed the strongest month for sales growth in August, new data shows.

Sales were up 16.4% year-on-year last month, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Sales Index.

The clothing sector performed particularly well, with sales up 17.9%, the best performance for this sector in 2017.

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All this comes despite August inflation of 2.9%, and the reported 2.4% rise in the price of clothing, which has evidently not served to deter fashion shoppers yet.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini, said retailers must be “hugely encouraged” by the August results, especially given that the first half of the year was marred by consumer uncertainty around Brexit.

But he issued a word of caution. “As we move into the winter months, it is vital that retailers maintain their efforts to keep the results on an upwards trend. Despite this month’s success, and even at their 2017 peak, the figures were down by 4% on August of the previous year – there is still a way to go if retailers want to round out the year successfully,” he said.

Outside of the sector-specific growth, multichannel retailers saw 17% growth, following three months of single-digit only growth, the first time that had happened since February 2015.

Justin Opie, managing director at IMRG said the increasing popularity of click & collect could be behind this growth.

“During Q2 of this year, click and collect penetration exceeded 30% of online orders for multichannel retailers. The IMRG Blujay Home Delivery review 2017 further indicated that the ability to combine click and collect with other shopping activity was the second most popular reason for choosing it,” he said.

“It’s possible that this points toward a shift in how people are shopping in a more focused way across online and offline, perhaps spending less time actually browsing high street shops – a drop in high street footfall was reported in August, while like-for-like high street retail was up – but looking to take advantage of retailers’ store portfolios where convenient for them.”

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