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Sep 24, 2019
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UK e-sales suffer in August but menswear and shoes power ahead

Sep 24, 2019

We've already heard from the UK's official statistics body that online sales in August weren't brilliant and now the key specialist tracking report that monitors such sales has confirmed the weakness of last month, although fashion looked strong.

Footwear was one of the categories that shone online last month

The latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index showed growth of just 3% year-on-year during August, which is well short of the 9.5% five year average. That said, the three-month, six-month, and 12-month rolling averages at +5.3%, +3.8%, and +5.7% also fell short of that five-year figure.

It seems it's a sign less of the weakness of online retail and more of the weakness of UK retail overall as consumers stay cautious in the face of an uncertain economy driven by Brexit issues.

But there was some good news amid all the gloom as menswear stood out from the crowd with impressive sales growth of 21.9%. In fact, clothing overall was the strongest super category with sales up by 9.1%. And footwear, which has had its challenges of late, rose by a healthy 7.3%.

That's compared to other product categories such as electrical that fell 22.5%, and gifts that were down 30.3%.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement, Capgemini, said that while August was yet another disappointing month for online sales, mobile sales have shown stronger performance over the last few months. 

“During 2018 the pace of growth had been stalling, however throughout 2019 there has been renewed growth, with mobile sales +14% in August versus last year, higher than the three- and six-month monthly averages which were +9% and +8% respectively,” he explained. “This is particularly noticeable in smartphones, reporting 36% growth versus last August, and showing a rise in results since the beginning of the year. 

“Retailers are focusing more than ever on their mobile customer experience, combined with increases in app advertising and more secure payment options, demonstrating that there is still room for growth and potentially market share by optimising the channel strategy.”
But Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG, added that we shouldn't hold out too much hope for the rest of the year: “Growth for online sales in 2019 has been well below expectation this year, but there was some hope that it would balance out as 2018 was a year of two distinct halves – the first half was very strong, the second half far less so. It was as we entered the third quarter last year that growth started to fall away, so this should be the point at which growth rates edge up again as they are against lower rates from last year. That has not happened.”

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