Weakest August in 15 years for online sales

Online retailers witnessed the weakest-performing August in 15 years last month, according to new data out today.

UK online retail sales were up just 5% year-on-year in August and down 6% on July, the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index shows.

Whilst it follows a particularly strong August 2014 (18%), it marks the weakest-performing August since the launch of the Index in 2000.

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The fall in sales may have been a result of the later Bank Holiday 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%) and July (14%). However, online sales of clothing recorded an annual growth of just 5% last month; its lowest ever performance for the month of August.

Sales made via a mobile device saw an increase of 33% 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% of m-retail sales, compared to 80% made via a tablet device.

In 2015, the balance has shifted, with 28% of sales made via a smartphone, compared to 72% made on a tablet.

IMRG chief information officer Tina Spooner 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%) 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.”



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