UK's August e-sales rise more slowly, but menswear and beauty are strong
There was mixed news coming out of the UK online retail sector in August as the country returned almost to normal after the three-month heatwave and the gardening sector finally took a backseat to sectors such as beauty and menswear.
Online sales growth continued, of course, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, but it seems the growth was slower in certain areas.
Looking at the headline figures, online retail sales rose 12.8% year-on-year in August, but they dropped 1.7% month-on-month. That latter figure wasn't particularly bad news given that there is a pattern of lower sales in August compared to July. And in fact, August last year saw a decline of almost 5% so a drop of less than 2% didn't look too bad.
Interestingly, m-commerce growth was at an all-time low of only 10% year-on-year, that sector having shown explosive growth in recent periods as customers migrated from their computers to shopping via tablets or smartphones. It was always inevitable that this growth would slow at some point and while smartphone-only growth came in at 27.6% in August, it was the lowest growth since September 2014, and a significant drop on last August’s 53.6% surge.
IMRG also said that online overall, pureplay e-tailers outperformed multichannel retailers (rising 14% vs 10.8% year-on-year) and as far as m-commerce was concerned, multichannel retailers only managed 1% growth year-on-year while pureplay e-tailers managed a 15% uplift.
The overall market conversion rate was a pleasing 4.7%, compared to 4.3% last year and IMRG’s view was that sales “held steady” during August.
By category, beauty had a strong month, coming in at +25.3%, but clothing was mixed with only a 5.4% rise. However, menswear rose 18.6% while womenswear was up only 3%.
Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement at Capgemini, said: “We were expecting a much bigger downturn in August than we got given the effect of the hot summer and events boosting sales in the previous months. The index was down on last month by less than 2%, the lowest decline compared to the last four years, and therefore one of best performance we’ve had.
“The August performance was largely driven by an uplift in the final week during the August bank holiday weekend, where we started to see a change in the weather, potentially driving autumn-wear and new season growth. Basket values in clothing however, were 11% lower than last year, which could be a result of heavier promotional activity.”
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