According to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index the strong sales experienced at the start of the year have continued, with online sales in February recording an 18% annual growth; representing £8.9 billion spent. While the increase was building on a disappointing February in 2015 (when growth was just 8%), the results reveal an impressive performance none-the-less, recording the highest year-on-year (YoY) increase announced since June 2015.
Much of the growth recorded in February was driven by an especially strong month for online clothing sales, which saw a significant YoY spike of 22%; its largest annual growth since June 2013. The clothing sub-sectors enjoyed an equally solid result, with the sale of menswear and accessories increasing 31% and 35% respectively. The colder weather may have had an impact on sales here, with shoppers spending on winter-wear following the unseasonably warm final quarter of 2015.
Valentine’s Day helped give the index a further push with romantics splashing out on presents for their loved ones, resulting in a strong performance in the lingerie sector, with sales up 20% year-on-year. Although the gifts sector fared less well (+6% YoY), sales peaked in the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, in line with historical trends.
However, despite a welcome return to double digit growth (15%) in January, following a tough 2015 for this sector, the sale of electrical items was disappointing in February. Online sales dropped 17% month-on-month and recorded an annual increase of just 6%.
Tina Spooner, chief information officer IMRG, said: “Following a strong performance in January, UK e-retail sales continued to accelerate last month, resulting in overall year-on-year growth of 16%, year-to-date. Although this is on the back of a relatively weak performance in Q1 2015, the latest results are impressive and are well ahead of our 11% growth forecast for 2016.
“It is evident the shift towards mobile devices continues, with smartphones accounting for over a third (34%) of mobile commerce sales during February. This is up from 24% in the same month last year, and reveals that smartphones have taken an additional 10% share of UK m-retail sales over the past year.”
Richard Tremellen, retail insight and data specialist, Capgemini, said: “Despite overall retail sales in February being flat, online growth continues to be strong. This is particularly encouraging given average basket values were up some 11% year on year, indicating factors other than discounting are driving growth. The strong performance in clothing suggests retailer investments in breadth of range, flexible delivery and ease of returns may be paying off for this sector.
“February also saw the continued disparity between sales made via smartphones and tablet devices. While smartphones recorded a healthy 92% annual growth, sales made on tablets grew by just 11%.”