UK August e-tail surge is good news for fashion says IMRG Capgemini

We've been getting mixed messages around UK retail for August in recent weeks with a better performance overall coming alongside reduced footfall. And it’s clear that online has had a big impact on all this.


Shopping for fashion online, including computers and smartphones, surged in August


On Tuesday, the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index showed August to be the best month for online retail growth so far this year as sales rose 16.4%.

The Home sector had a particularly strong August, with 20.5% year-on-year growth and an average basket value (ABV) of £130, which is interesting given the issues that retailers like Dunelm have faced and also with John Lewis having seen weak Home sales for much of the year.

Clothing also showed good growth at 17.9%, the best performance for this sector of the year so far, with an ABV up £9 compared to August 2016. Thats good news for the fashion sector as it worked to clear its remain summer stock and dropped new autumn pieces into e-stores.

These sectors both contributed to the highest overall ABV for the month of August in five years, despite inflation of 2.9%, and the reported 2.4% rise in the price of clothing, which doesn’t seem to have put off fashion shoppers yet.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini, said: “With the first half of the year marred by consumer uncertainty around Brexit and the general election, retailers must be hugely encouraged by the August results. After a strong July where those in the industry were forced to up their game to compete with Amazon Prime Day, could we be seeing a continuation of their discount strategies paying off?

“Or is it the Brits’ reawakened love of a staycation that is the real driving factor – something that the stand-out successes of the Home and Clothing sectors would certainly indicate.
 
Outside of the sector-specific growth, multichannel retailers saw 17% growth, following three months of single-digit-only rises, which is the first time that had happened since February 2015.

IMRG’s managing director Justin Opie reminded us that online sales growth for multichannel retailers has been on a general downward trend in recent months and, while it’s too early to say whether August’s spike indicates the start of fightback, there are some signs that it is.

And click & collect could be key to. During Q2, it said click & 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 & collect with other shopping activity was the second most popular reason for choosing it.

“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,” Opie said. He cited the drop in high street footfall for August, while comparable high street retail was up, saying consumers could be looking to take advantage of retailers’ store portfolios where convenient for them.

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