Online sales continue to drive retail market, IMRG Capgemini index reveals

Latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have confirmed a solid performance for online sales during the first six months of 2012, illustrating how e-retail sales are continuing to drive the retail market.

British shoppers have spent £34.9bn online so far this year compared to £31bn spent in the first six months of 2011. In June alone shoppers spent an estimated £6bn (an average of £117.00 per person) equating to 13% growth on June last year and a 1% drop on May 2012.

According to researchers, growth patterns in June were largely influenced by two key factors: the wettest June for over 100 years and the European Football Championships.

The electrical sector benefited from both of these, reporting a year-on-year growth of 35% and 9% on May 2012, with the football driving sales of televisions and the weather encouraging many to invest in home entertainment products.

The travel sector also benefited from the wet weather, registering a 17% year-on-year growth as rain soaked Brits flocked to sunnier climes.

While the disappointing summer has had a positive influence on travel and electrical goods, it did result in a disappointing month for the clothing sector, particularly after a warm May helped the sector return to a more positive year-on-year growth of 11%.

Clothing reported a relatively weak 4% increase on June 2011 and a drop of 9% on May 2012 as the weather discouraged shoppers from splurging out on summer clothing. However, accessories which typically have a better shelf-life and lower ticket value than clothing, were up 47% year-on-year.

The gift sector reported a 43% increase from June last year, and a month-on-month growth of 18%, driven largely by Father’s Day purchases.

In June, year on year growth of 17% for online-only retailers exceeded that of multi-channel retailers at 11% – in line with the rest of H1 2012. Sales via mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, continued to enjoy phenomenal growth in June, with m-commerce leaping 356% year-on-year, said researchers..

Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, said: “The retail sector has experienced a very turbulent few months, with the Queen’s Jubilee, the football and the weather all playing their part.

“With the Olympics just around the corner we are likely to see further disruption to the Index; next month and for the rest of the year. Retailers are being presented with a unique opportunity to gain legions of international customers during the Olympics, as millions of tourists sample the best of the British high-street.

“Instead of just a souvenir, international visitors could be returning home with a lifelong relationship with British brands and so it is essential that retailers have an international online strategy in place to take full advantage of the opportunity.”

Andrew McClelland, chief operations & policy officer at IMRG, said: “In challenging trading conditions caused by the weather, continued negative economic news and consumers paying down credit, the Index has still managed to record double-digit growth for H1 2012, highlighting the value consumers place in the strong retail proposition that online is able to provide.

“The market is on a strong footing to push ahead in H2 now, as we anticipate a boom in online shopping as many people will have the option of working from home during the Olympics and will therefore be in to receive deliveries.”