Online retail sales smashes records

online retail sales

Shoppers have been spending more on average online than ever before, with half-year online retail sales growing at the highest rate in eight years.

According to the IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, online retail sales surged 16.8 per cent year-on-year during the first half of 2018, defying extreme weather events like the Beast of the East and various heatwaves to record strong sales results every month so far.

National events like the World Cup and the royal wedding also bolstered online retail sales.

The figures sit in stark contrast to the downturn that’s plaguing bricks-and-mortar retail this year so far, and is also the highest average first half year-on-year growth since 2011.

Additionally, the growth seen in this year’s first half is well above the five-year-average of 14.1 per cent.

On a quarterly basis, despite the UK being hit by freak cold weather moving into spring, online retail grew by 15.3 per cent year-on-year between January and March, with the reduced high street footfall driving shoppers to home spending.

As the weather picked up and the UK experienced some unseasonably hot weather in April, online retail sales went from strength-to-strength, with an 18.2 per cent year-on-year growth in the second quarter between April and June.

Meanwhile, the average basket value for the whole first half of the year was at its highest for the decade at £94, and again outperformed the five-year-average of £85.

Despite the impressive growth of online retail, conversion rates for online retailers actually decreased overall every month other than May.

IMRG and Capgemini attributed this to the continued trend of online shopping via smartphone devices, where spending grew 39 per cent against last year during the second quarter.

“The performance for online sales in the first half of the year has been a lot stronger than anticipated,” IMRG insight director Andy Mulcahy said.

“There are a number of factors that may be influencing that – the extreme weather events (both hot and cold), the royal wedding, World Cup, etc – and it might be possible that the feel-good elements associated with some of those events has encouraged people to spend a bit beyond their means.

“This could mean that we see a pinch on shopper spend as we move through Q3 – though the weather in July has been incredibly hot – which may lead to an imbalance in online retail growth between the first and second halves of the year.”

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