Online sales return to double digit growth in September, IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveals

The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed that UK online retail sales returned to double digit growth in September following a weak August, recording a 12% increase on the same period last year. The Index has grown 10% during the third quarter of 2015, and as the sector prepares itself for the busy Christmas period, the year-to-date growth also remains at 10%.

The September performance was boosted by the late Summer Bank Holiday which fell within the first week of the month, helping the Index grow 8% on August, although growth was still slightly lower than might have been expected. The Indian summer experienced in many parts of the country was likely to have been a contributing factor. Parents updating back-to-school wardrobes helped the clothing sector to record 12% year-on-year (YoY) growth, though that was on top of flat September growth in 2014 – the warm weather was probably an influence there, holding back shoppers from buying autumn-wear.

The home sector reported a particularly strong month, with an increase of 47% YoY. And as a result of the launch of the new iPhone 6S, the electrical sector, which has had a disappointing 2015, saw a spike in September; up 6.4% on the same period last year, its second highest YoY growth this year.

Alex Smith-Bingham, head of digital, consumer products and retail, Capgemini, said: “Whilst it’s reassuring to see the Index return to double digit growth, it’s not as strong as the sector would have liked. With the Rugby World Cup, the warm weather and the late Bank Holiday, retailers could be forgiven for expecting a better performance in September. As we approach the busy Christmas period, and with Black Friday just a few weeks away, it will be interesting to see whether British shoppers have intentionally held back for the heavy discounting the festive season brings.”

Andy Mulcahy, editor at IMRG: “It’s been a very topsy-turvy year so far in 2015 for online retail growth – we had a slow Q1, a strong Q2 and now an average Q3. While we might have expected growth to be higher in September – it was building on flat growth in September 2014 – the prolonged period of very warm weather will have impacted upon shopper behaviour so it’s going to be interesting to see what kind of Q4 we get; certainly all the indicators are suggesting that the Black Friday peak will evolve again to become an even bigger shopping event than it was last year.”

Sales made via mobile devices (either a smartphone or tablet) saw an annual increase of 41% in September. Year-to-date, it has grown 43% in 2015, compared to 46% at the same point in 2014.