Online retail sales have been far stronger than anticipated so far in 2016, according to new data from IMRG and Capgemini.
Growth for online retail sales is currently growing at 15.1 per cent for the year-to-date period ending September, well ahead the original forecast of 11 per cent set at the start of the year.
Due to this, the IMRG-Capgemini annual forecast for 2016 online retail sales has now been revised to 15 per cent, the best growth rate since 2013’s 16 per cent.
The strong growth is also forecast to continue into the final quarter of this year, as shoppers look to make purchases before 2017 starts – due to retailers holding off on price hikes in line with rising inflation until after Christmas, as well as holiday sales days like Black Friday.
The Brexit vote also appears to have had little negative impact on online sales growth – with the third quarter of this year recording a growth of 17 per cent – the highest quarterly growth since the first quarter of 2014.
IMRG managing director Justin Opie said the emergence of tablet devices helped reverse the declining trend in annual growth rates experienced between 2010 and 2012.
“[They extended] the times and locations in which people could browse retail sites,” he said.
“Making 9pm a new daily peak as people used them on the sofa in front of the TV.
“It may be that smartphones are now helping to provide a similar boost – sales growth for these devices has been very strong over the past year or so, up 82.8 per cent year-to-date while for tablets it is just 5.5 per cent.”
Capgemini management consultant Bhavesh Unadkat said it was “pretty clear” that any impact from Brexit won’t be seen in its fullest for months to come.
“With this in mind it has been another stupendous year for e-retail so far, with performance up 15 per cent on the year, proving consumer confidence remains strong,” he said.
“The end of the year will be boosted further by Black Friday and peak season. Indeed, when considering the amount of planning and preparation retailers have made this year compared with last year, both without a doubt will be record breaking.
“The cherry on top could be the weakness of the pound as those looking for summer sun may decide to stay at home and reinvest that spend into the UK.”
The news comes the same week as the latest BRC-KPMG figures, which revealed that sales rose at the highest rate since January across all sectors in the three month period to October.