The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index have revealed that the value of online retail sales grew by 18.9 per cent year-on-year in October.
This represents the highest year-on-year growth rate in any month since November 2014, when the recently-imported Black Friday had one of its first marked impact on pre-Christmas shopping patterns in the UK.
The news comes a day after the ONS released its latest monthly stats that indicated retail sales had grown at the highest rate since 2002.
Across the sectors in IMRG-Capgemini’s index, sales of home goods performed particularly well and were up by 23.9 per cent year-on-year, and 21.8 per cent on September.
Accessories were up 37.7 per cent year-on-on and gifts up 29.1 per cent for the same period.
Meanwhile, across mobile channels, tablets made a resurgence with sales completed on the device increasing by six per cent year-on-year and 18 per cent when compared to September.
However, despite the positive results the index also recorded its lowest conversion rate – the percentage of website visits that result in sales – since February 2013, at just 4.1 per cent.
IMRG-Capgemini said this could be because of increasing numbers of people visiting company websites to research prices and build wish-lists ahead of Black Friday on November 25.
“October’s results offer a very positive indication of what retailers can expect from the fast-approaching festive period,” Capgemini consultant Bhavesh Unadkat said
“However, it will be up to retailers to make sure they capitalise on these vitally important trading periods.”
IMRG managing director said the index had performed ahead of expectation so far in 2016.
“We recently adjusted our start-of-year forecast from 11 per cent growth to 15 per cent as a consequence – and October’s results continued this trend,” he said.
“On the surface, a drop in conversion should logically lead to lower growth, but a five-year high for basket values and the likelihood of increased site traffic as people start researching in advance of Black Friday seems to have offset any negative impact.
“In recent years Black Friday has become an incredibly important period for determining a retailer’s success at the peak time of year, so retailers will hope that higher basket values can be sustained over the coming few weeks.”
Meanwhile, Michael Allen – the European vice president of digital consultancy firm Dynatrace – said IMRG’s Black Friday forecast showed just how critical the mobile shopping experience has become.
“In an ultra-competitive retail market, the digital performance of mobile services has become a key differentiator, making all the difference between a satisfied customer and an abandoned shopping cart,” he said.
“It is critical for retailers to build in performance from the start and to continuously test mobile services from the user’s perspective, to ensure they can spot any potential problems before customers are affected.”