Solid growth for online sales as average spend through mobile devices rises, e-Retail Sales Index shows

UK online retail sales were up +13% year-on-year (YoY) in March, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. This represents a solid performance as Easter (which traditionally brings heightened retail sales activity) fell in March in 2016 while it was in April this year.

The continued positive growth for online retail sales appears to be being driven, at least in part, by higher average basket values (ABV) through mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) for both multichannel and online-only retailers – the total m-retail ABV was up +18% on March 2016, to mark the seventh straight month in which the ABV has risen YoY.

The home and garden sector – which usually experiences a peak over the Easter weekend – performed well in March, up +10% YoY versus a strong +26% last year. March featured some bright and sunny weather, which seems to have driven sales growth for the garden sector in particular, with sales up +14% YoY.

Justin Opie, managing director, IMRG: “Over the past few years we have recorded very strong online retail sales growth through smartphone devices and it seems shoppers are getting more confident about checking out with higher baskets through these devices. The reasons for this are most likely related to better-performing mobile sites, with many retailers focusing on making the experience as convenient and straightforward as possible on these devices, but it will also no doubt be being influenced by next-day delivery – it has become fairly common for online retailers to offer next-day for free if the total spend is above a set threshold.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design, Capgemini: “March 2017 has exhibited fairly typical behaviour. Month on month growth is positive, reversing the negative trend seen in previous Januarys and Februarys. However, month-on-month growth was still only 4.4% which is the lowest since 2008, although an increase of 13.2% on the year can be seen as strong with Easter falling in March last year. Health and Beauty (+15% on month and +31% on year) was very strong in March boosted by Mother’s Day, and Home and Garden has seen an early boost in performance driven by a warm March.”