Online retail sales growth rate doubles in first quarter, IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index shows

The IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index has revealed positive Q1 online sales growth of 15% (excluding travel) on the same period last year – when growth was up just 8%, the first time the Index had recorded a full quarter of single-digit growth. There was also an increase in the average basket value (ABV) – from £77 (Q1 2015) to £81 (Q1 2016) – following a general decline throughout 2015.

March was a solid month for online sales growth, with the Index increasing 11% and ABVs averaging £82. A strong performance was also witnessed across a number of sectors with accessories performing particularly well, recording a 58% year–on-year (YoY) growth – it’s highest since May 2015.

Spring cleaning was the theme of the month with the standout sector being Home and Garden. This sector exhibited a 26% YoY increase – the sector’s highest increase since February 2014. The sector also recorded an ABV of £93 – the highest since October 2012. The drive in online sales can be attributed to an increase in sales for the Home sub-sector, which recorded annual growth of 33%, compared to the Garden sector, which saw a drop of 12% on the same period last year.

The divergence between tablet and smartphone sales continued, with sales via the latter platform surging ahead with a massive 101% increase year-on-year (excluding travel), compared to just 6% recorded on tablets. In Q1 overall, smartphone usage grew almost nine times that of tablets with 96%, compared to just 11% for tablets – showing this to be part of a wider trend in the sector.

Richard Tremellen, retail insight and data specialist, Capgemini, said: “Double digit growth for online sales in Q1 2016 is a hugely positive sign for the sector, and one which is further strengthened by an increase in the average amount spent online during the period. There appears to be a sizeable shift in consumers’ confidence in online shopping.“

Tina Spooner, chief information officer, IMRG, said: “Sales via smartphones continue to surge ahead, growing at 9x the rate of sales completed on tablet devices during the first quarter of the year.  There is no doubt that larger screen sizes have enhanced the user experience on smartphones over recent years which is a key factor in the shift towards shopping on these devices.

“Smartphone is the fastest growing channel in the UK online retail market – conversion rates were 50% higher in Q1 than the same period last year and average online transaction values reached a record high of £85 during March. Not surprisingly, many retailers are placing a significant focus on their mobile strategy as consumers shift towards handheld devices when purchasing online.”