20 September 2012 10:28
The UK was distracted by the performance of Team GB in the Olympics and away from shopping online in August, according to a new report.
According to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, British shoppers spent £5.8bn online in August, a year-on-year growth of 11%, but dropping 11% on July.
Whilst a decline between July and August is typical (down 6% in 2011 and down 8% in 2010) with the start of the Autumn school term, the decline was particularly significant this year, with the Olympics distracting regular online shoppers.
However, despite the disappointing performance, and in contrast to the wider retail sector, e-commerce is growing – the year-to-date index has grown 13%, as per earlier forecasts for the year.
It seems the country's determination to cheer on Team GB's heroes affected most of the sectors in August. Despite what has been a very solid year-on-year performance over the last four months, growth in the electrical sector fell to just 11% and reported a month-on-month decline of 2%. The sector peaked in the run-up to the Olympics at the end of July when sales of HD televisions and SLR cameras spiked as part of the nation gearing up for the games, but once the likes of Mo Farah, Jess Ennis and Ellie Simmonds took to the stage, sales experienced an abrupt slowdown.
Clothing also struggled last month. Despite the arrival of autumn/winter ranges and the late summer sales , the sector failed to draw many takers, recording growth of only 11% year on year and dipping 18% on July last month.
The travel sector saw an annual growth of 9% and dropped 7% month on month. While this decline could be attributed to the Olympics and the desire to stay at home to watch the Games, with school holidays coming to an end, this dip is quite typical for the season.
In contrast to the overall index results, gifts and health & beauty grew 41% and 25% year on year respectively.
M-commerce sales, shopping via mobile/handheld devices, continued to perform particularly well in August, with the m-Retail Index reporting a growth of 294% on the same time last year and up 280% year on year, excluding travel sales. As with the e-Retail Index, the conversion rate, i.e. the actual sales which materialised out of website surfing, improved marginally, proving that shoppers were more focused in their browsing and made less ineffective visits online.
Year-on-year growth of online-only retailers continues to exceed that of multichannel retailers, growing 15% year on year as compared to the 8% growth of their multichannel counterparts. In the last three months online-only retailers have been growing by an average of 6% year on year more than multichannel retailers.
Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology CapgeminiUK, said: "It is very common for August to see a slight decline in e-retail sales, but it is interesting to see just how much of an added impact the Olympics had. It will now be up to retailers to capitalise on the changing season, and make sure the correct strategy is in place as we enter the run-up to Christmas.
"Mobile commerce, although slowed slightly last month, continues to grow at a healthy pace. This will be a particularly important channel for retailers this winter, as many more shoppers will be making the most of the developments in mobile technology for their Christmas shopping."
Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, comments: "While online retail sales saw a boost during July in the run-up to the Olympic Games, the same cannot be said during the event itself. The 11% growth recorded in August is below the average Index performance year-to-date and is perhaps an indication that Olympic fever did not have an overall positive impact on the online retail industry.
"While sales via mobile devices also recorded lower annual growth than seen in recent months, the m-Retail Index also reveals that the average spend via mobile devices was the lowest recorded during 2012. However, sales via mobile devices have grown a staggering 320% year-to-date compared with the same period in 2011 and by the end of this year we expect m-retail to account for around 20% of online sales in the UK".