Online sales hold up in May but mixed bag for sectors, IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index shows

The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed that online sales were up 10% year-on-year (YoY) in May and 2% on April, as the Index recorded double-digit growth for the second month running following the first quarter of single-digit growth in Q1 2015.

The potential growth of the Index was likely to have been tempered by the unsettled weather in May. Clothing saw a YoY growth of just 9% – a 1% increase on April, and a stark contrast to the 20% YoY recorded in May 2014 when the country experienced a warmer than average month. However, sales of accessories performed well in May, reporting annual growth of 66%, up 19% on April.

The home and garden sectors also reflected the impact of the disappointing weather in May. Whilst shoppers were put off spending on their gardens, they were more enthusiastic to splash out on purchases for the home, with the garden sector reporting a YoY decrease of 27% while sales growth in the home sector was up 29%.

The Index also revealed that the online sale of electrical goods continued its disappointing 2015 performance in May. Reporting YoY growth of just 3%, electricals have been the weakest performing sector this year.

The m-commerce sector (sales via a smartphone or tablet device) recorded a 48% increase on May 2014. Revealingly, sales made on a smartphone significantly outweighed tablets, reporting a 107% annual growth compared to 32% for tablets.  However, there is a disparity between the amounts spent online via the respective devices. Whilst the average basket value of a smartphone transaction is £73, a purchase on a tablet is £83.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer, IMRG, said: “After the below-expectation performance in Q1 – when sales growth for the quarter was up just 7% – it’s encouraging to see online sales growth holding up during a fairly unpredictable month that featured the general election and unsettled weather patterns. It was a really mixed bag for the sectors in May – it may be that electricals is struggling due to the lack of any new must-have technology and garden was clearly impacted by the weather – but as we saw in home and travel there are still some strong areas of growth driving the Index.”

Alex Smith-Bingham, head of digital, consumer products and eetail, Capgemini, said: “Despite the generally solid level of consumer confidence, the online retail sector has seen quite a turbulent few months this year. However, this month’s Index result on the back of a strong performance in April indicates that we’re on the right track. The weather is improving which invariably has a positive impact on shopper’s spending and of course we’re heading into the holiday season which will encourage consumers to update their summer wardrobes.”