Online sales slow down as Brits head outdoors

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IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index Eat Out to Help Out online shopping
The IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers
// Online sales slow down as Brits head out onto the high street
// Digital sales slid month-on-month

Online sales have slowed down as Brits begin going back out into the high street following recent initiatives including the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, new research found.

Despite overall online sales remaining strong during August, growth continued to slide month-on-month.

According to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index – which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers – multichannel retailers recorded a growth of 70.5 per cent year-on-year compared to 11.4 per cent.


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Meanwhile, online sales were up 43.5 per cent year-on-year in August.

However, sales dropped by 4.1 per cent month-on-month.

Last month, multichannel retailers outperformed online-only businesses for the fifth month running – recording a rise of 70.5 per cent, compared to 11.4 per cent.

Moreover, the lockdown ease and warm weather was reason enough for consumers to head out.

Social activities and restaurant visits increased, while clothing sales were up again by 6.8 per cent year-on-year compared to last month’s rise of 0.6 per cent.

Gardening sales rose by a colossal 286.1 per cent, while footwear sales continued to decline by 10.7 per cent.

“As summer comes to a close, we have seen a slowdown in the growth online and we expect to see some shifts in the category spending as we move into autumn,” Capgemini managing consultant Lucy Gibbs said.

“In particular, clothing seems to be returning to positive growth, boosted by the return to school and offices as well as further mobility.

“However, this may not be enough to capture the total lost sales during the summer pandemic period.

“Footwear, for example, is the only category to remain in negative growth since March, impacted by events and reduced wear throughout lockdown.

“The disrupted seasonal trends, and higher proportion of spend online has had a disproportionate impact on retailers without diverse product ranges or a strong online offering, and challenges in planning and supply chain.

“Retailers will need to remain reactive and innovative to prepare for the upcoming months; government incentives have worked well to ignite spending on the high street, so with low consumer confidence and ongoing economic uncertainty, the discounting period around Black Friday could prove to be significant to regain sales.

“As many consumers have now shifted online we can also expect a significant growth in e-commerce during the festive period.”

IMRG strategy and insight director Andy Mulcahy said: “Now that we are coming out of summer, all attention is inevitably focused on the Black Friday and Christmas period.

“The big question is just how big Black Friday will be online this year. With most types of business open again, and people being actively encouraged by the government to return to their offices, are we starting to see some signs of online and offline sales balancing out again?

“The evidence has a big caveat as, while it’s true that the August rate of growth was a bit lower than it had been over the past three months, it doesn’t necessarily mean online growth is slowing down.

“The Eat Out to Help Out scheme ran through August and had a big take-up, bringing people back to the high street. Now that is finished, will they stay there, or has behaviour evolved more fundamentally than that?”

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