The announcement of a snap general election may have triggered a lower-than-expected rise in online sales growth last month, according to new data.
UK online retail sales were up 13.9% year-on-year in April, the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index show.
While on the surface this represents solid growth, it was only up +4.3% on March when a higher rate might have been expected.
Historical analysis illustrated in the graph below indicates a strong correlation between elections and a dip in consumer spending in the month leading up to the vote.
IMRG managing director Justin Opie said: “It may seem odd to regard growth of 13.9% as disappointing, but taking the other factors into consideration we can identify some indications of suppressed growth potentially linked to shopper confidence.
“Looking at historical data, it seems that elections exert an influence on spending patterns and we may expect that to continue into May due to the uncertainty that comes with these events. We then enter the period of official Brexit negotiations with the EU, when the progress of those discussions will likely be reflected in shopper behaviour. That could be a period of considerable turbulence for retailers due to the potential for currency fluctuations, shifting shopper confidence and rising inflation.”
Bhavesh Unadkat, a principle consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini said a growth of just 13.9% in a month that also included Easter is another sign of slowdown within the retail industry.
“This is also demonstrated in the MoM increase of only 4.3% – again, despite the falling of Easter – where April is always a strong month. The slowdown is further proved through investigating the clothing sector, which increased 10.5% on the year, but showed the slowest YoY April growth rate for six years.”