The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed that online sales grew 13% year-on-year in April – following an unprecedented four months of single-digit growth.
April sales were up 4% month-on-month – a marked shift in the usual established trend of flat monthly growth between March and April, and the highest recorded for this period since 2007 – as online shoppers were apparently unaffected by the huge uncertainty around who would win the general election. April also saw the highest conversion rate yet seen in 2015 at 4.6%.
Improvements in average temperatures seemed to provide a boost to clothing – where sales growth was up 15%, its best performance in 2015 so far. The travel sector also continued to perform well in April – up 20% year-on-year – as people look to book their summer holidays.
Mobile continued to drive overall online sales growth. April’s figures show that mobile sales increased 52% year-on-year and 8% on March.
£640bn spent online in 15 years
The Index is celebrating its 15-year anniversary, after being launched in April 2000. Over that period online sales have rocketed by 11,000%, with an estimated £640bn spent online over its lifetime.
Alex Smith-Bingham, head of digital, consumer products and retail, Capgemini, said: “Today’s figures show a return to form for online retail. Shoppers are clearly more confident than ever and in the run up to the general election were feeling upbeat about their prospects for the future. The fact that conversion rates were so high goes to show that people weren’t just window shopping – they were going online ready to spend. With the economy continuing to improve I’m confident that online retail is on the up.”
Tina Spooner, chief information officer, at IMRG said: “The return to double-digit growth during April has resulted in overall growth of 9% year-to-date for the UK online retail market. Although this is still below our 2015 growth forecast of 12%, a number of sectors continue to outperform the total market including footwear, lingerie and accessories. The latest results also reveal that online browsers converted at the highest rate for April since 2009 – helping to fuel the 3.9% month-on-month rise between March and April, where the established trend is for flat growth.
“A separate survey of IMRG members has revealed that UK retailers believe a number of factors influenced the slowdown in e-retail growth during Q1 including market maturity, increased competition, less discounting resulting in consumers holding out for sales and promotions and also political and economic uncertainty. However, it is too early to say whether the single-digit growth recorded during Q1 was merely a blip and we will be monitoring developments very closely over the coming months.”