Clothing drives online sales growth in April, IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index finds

The IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index has revealed that e-retail continued its double digit growth this year, despite reports of sluggish sales growth on the high street, with purchases made online achieving a year-on-year increase of 11% in April. Whilst this continues the trend of solid annual growth so far recorded in e-retail in 2016, April’s figures were the lowest year-on-year growth rate so far this year. Sales were hampered slightly with Easter falling earlier this year, in March.

The Index was buoyed by healthy sales in clothing/apparel, which recorded a 15% annual increase, building on a similar year-on-year performance in April 2015. The growth was driven by the continued consumer appetite for accessories and footwear which reported respective year-on-year increases of 25% and 19%. Lingerie performed most impressively, shooting up to 32% year-on-year; a 19% growth on the previous month.

Other sectors which saw a solid April include gifts, which grew 16% year-on-year, and home and garden, up 13%.

However, online sales of alcohol recorded a more disappointing result, with a 13% decline on the same period last year. This is the sixth time in the last eight months that the sector has seen a negative drop as bad weather continues to delay the UK’s BBQ season.

In the mobile sector, smartphone sales continued to surge at the expense of tablet sales. Sales on smartphones grew 83%* while tablets grew just 3%*, falling way short of the 32% annual growth recorded in April 2015. However, the conversion rate for tablets was 1.7 percentage points higher than for smartphones.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer, IMRG, said: “The growth in April was probably slightly ahead of where we may have anticipated given the cold weather, with a number of sectors outperforming the total market, including apparel where sales growth was up +15%. Year-to-date, overall e-retail growth is actually 2% ahead of our 11% growth forecast for 2016.

“A definite trend we have been recording so far this year is the displacement of sales from tablet devices – with sales growth just +3% through these devices – over to smartphones, where sales continue to be very strong. Larger mobile screens and better optimised sites seem to be working to increase confidence in using these devices for a wide range of activities.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, retail customer engagement and loyalty SME, Capgemini, “This was a tough month for retailers as their performance was up against Easter 2015 which fell in April last year.  They were also hampered by the heavy rainfall which discouraged shoppers from purchasing the seasonal items that traditionally drive the Index.  However double digit growth is still very respectable and I expect May to be even stronger.”

*Excluding travel sector participants