Online retail sales slump to lowest ever July growth

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Uptick in June an anomaly, as online retail sales slumped to the lowest ever July growth
July's online retail sales declined by 5.7% when compared to June. (Image: PA)
// Uptick in June an anomaly, as online retail sales slumped to the lowest ever July growth
// Online retail sales in July grew by just 4.4% year-on-year
// Result falls well short of the 5-year average and other rolling averages

Following a month of improved online sales in June, new figures show that retailers failed to maintain the positive momentum in July.

According to the latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, online sales in July slowed to just 4.4 per cent growth year-on-year.

When compared to the previous month, July’s online retail sales declined by 5.7 per cent.

Despite the scorching weather and notable online shopping events like Amazon Prime Day, these figures represented the lowest ever annual increase for July and fell well short of the five-year average of 10.2 per cent.

July’s figures also came in well below the three-month, six-month, and 12-month rolling averages of 4.9 per cent, 4.9 per cent, and 6.5 per cent respectively.

Clothing sales followed a similar pattern to the overall result, with positive growth of 4.5 per cent failing to match June’s high of 15.7 per cent or the five-year average of 8.6 per cent.

Elsewhere,  the hottest day of the year did little to boost categories like alcohol and home & garden, both of which recorded negative growth in July.

With no World Cup to spark celebrations and commiserations, online alcohol sales plunged by 19.7 per cent compared to its strong performance of 32.9 per cent last July.

Garden sales also fell by 44.6 per cent compared to growth of 22 per cent last year, contributing to a low overall growth for home and garden of 5.4 per cent.

IMRG insight director Andy Mulcahy said online sales growth had been subdued throughout the first half of 2019, but in June there “seemed to be a bit of a bounce-back that hinted toward growth picking up again”.

“However, there is now evidence that the June performance was artificially inflated by heavy discounting to stimulate sales activity, and it seems likely that some of that volume was pulled forward from July,” he said.

“There is usually a dip between June and July, but this year it was down 5.7 per cent, a sharper decline than the five-year average of 1.1 per cent.”

Capgemini principal consultant Bhavesh Unadkat said July’s figures were disappointing after a better June performance.

“The outlook remains uncertain for retailers into half two as consumer spending is cautious and confidence low, yet GfK has reported that the major purchase index has increased six points back into positive territory this month,” he said.

“This could hint that customers will be more willing to make considered purchases over the coming months rather than impulse buys.

“As we lead into the peak season retailers will therefore need to focus on winning share of wallet amongst an increasingly competitive online market.”

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