U.K. online retail sales grew 11% in November from a year ago; £7.1B spent during month, a record, reports IMRG

LONDON , December 16, 2011 () –

  • e-Retail sales up 11% on Nov 2010 – lower than forecast but building on very strong growth from last year
  • £7.1bn spent online in November; first time £7bn mark broken in a single month
  • Clothing sector records lowest growth in two years
  • Travel sector down 20% year-on-year

The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed a lower-than-expected performance in the online sales market for November as the economic crisis continues to impact upon consumer confidence. The Index was up 11% on November 2010, just below IMRG and Capgemini’s forecast of 12-14% growth for Q4, but building on a very strong performance last year (+22% in Nov 2010).

It is worth noting that the early snowfall in November last year most likely boosted early online sales, as people unable to access the high street shopped online instead. Consumers this year may feel more confident in receiving their deliveries on time if they order in December.

This dip in online sales growth mirrors wider retail trends. According to the British Retail Consortium, November saw the high-street suffer its biggest annual fall in sales since May this year. In the wake of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the economy, it would appear that British shoppers are exercising greater caution in their purchasing decisions online as well as on the high street.

In terms of specific sectors clothing has been hit especially hard, recording just 8% YOY growth; the lowest YOY figures since May 2009 and in stark contrast with the 34% growth reported in November last year. The mild weather last month (compared with the deep freeze this time last year) has clearly impacted upon consumers’ desire to update their winter wardrobes unnecessarily.

Other sectors reporting disappointing sales include alcohol, which reported a YOY growth of just 2%. November is traditionally a busy time for alcohol sales as Brits stock up early in preparation for a boozy festive season. With online sales down 20% on October, the travel sector was hit the hardest. Travel has seen a decline throughout the year, but with shoppers saving up for Christmas presents, expensive holidays are the first luxury to be put on hold until the New Year.

However, there was more positive news in other sectors. The electrical sector, which has performed badly throughout 2011, has seen an unexpected return to form, reporting growth of 14% YOY, and an impressive 47% MOM. Health and beauty also enjoyed a solid month, jumping 30% YOY and increasing a significant 63% on October. Both these sectors see a spike during the run up to Christmas, as savvy shoppers jump online to purchase popular electrical devices and cosmetics/perfumes for presents.

Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini says: “While these lower than expected growth figures show that online is not immune to the economic slowdown, the shift from the high-street to online continues. A growth of just 11% is very disappointing for this time of year as traditionally shoppers start their Christmas shopping early to spread the cost of presents over several pay cheques. This does follow a particularly busy November last year, but nevertheless it is clearly a sign of consumers tightening their belts.”

Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG said: “While the growth in e-retail sales in November is weaker than expected, this is on the back of a very strong performance in November 2010 when the Index recorded growth of 22%. With consumers suffering the biggest squeeze on the cost of living and disposable incomes in over 50 years, it appears the strain on high street retailers may now also be affecting the online retail sector.

“Clothing sales were particularly poor in November, no doubt compounded by the mild weather, as consumers delayed updating their winter wardrobes. However, online electrical and health & beauty retailers fared better last month, with sales up 14% and 30%, respectively. It is also worth noting that we have not seen a repeat of the widespread snow disruption that heavily impacted upon deliveries last year, so consumers may be more confident in leaving their shopping a bit later this Christmas.”

Notes to Editors

About IMRG
IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) is the UK’s industry association for e-retail. Formed in 1990, IMRG is setting and maintaining pragmatic and robust e-retail standards to enable fast-track industry growth, and facilitates its community of members with practical help, information, tools, guidance and networking. Consumers can be confident when dealing with IMRG Members because all interact in an environment where they are encouraged to operate using methods that are Honest, Decent, Legal, Truthful and Fair, and have undertaken to not bring the industry into disrepute. The strength of IMRG is the collective and cooperative power of its members. For more information please visit http://www.imrg.org/ or email membership@imrg.org

About Capgemini
With around 115,000 people in 40 countries, Capgemini is one of the world's foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services. The Group reported 2010 global revenues of EUR 8.7 billion. Together with its clients, Capgemini creates and delivers business and technology solutions that fit their needs and drive the results they want. A deeply multicultural organization, Capgemini has developed its own way of working, the Collaborative Business ExperienceTM, and draws on Rightshore ®, its worldwide delivery model.

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