Warmer April weather has positive impact on shoppers’ purse strings, Index finds

A short spell of warm weather in April had a positive impact on shoppers’ purse strings, recording a 16% rise in online sales compared to the same time last year, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

The travel sector in particular saw a solid performance, increasing 16% year-on-year. This is the first time the sector has seen growth between March and April (up 2%) since the Index first recorded online travel sales in 2009.

Beer, wine and spirits was another well performing sector, which saw a 19% increase on online sales compared to April last year, and a monthly growth of 18%. This follows a poor performance in Q1 with growth of just 3%.

Electricals took a hit for the first time since July 2011, down 3% year-on-year, with the average basket value at £167. This disappointing performance comes off the back of a very strong April 2012, which saw the launch of the iPad 3, the sale of which created a halo effect on the wider sector, spurring shoppers to splash out on other electrical goods. The same period this year, has not experienced the release of any highly anticipated consumer electronics. 

The figures reveal a continuing trend between online-only retailers and those who have both an online and physical presence on the high-street. Online retailers saw growth of 20% year-on-year in April, while multi-channel recorded 14%. Similar to what happened in 2012, the performance of online and multi-channel retailers converged during the Christmas period, but have since diverged with online outperforming their multi-channel counterparts. This suggests shoppers are becoming more confident in the internet as a transaction medium, and is a result of the increased adoption of new technologies and services (mobile devices, social media etc) introduced by online only retailers.

The M-Commerce Index revealed growth in sales via mobile devices (smart phones and tablets) is slowing, from 243% year-on-year in March to 131% (excluding travel) in April. However, a slowdown in growth is natural as the use of m-retail and mobile technology becomes more widespread.

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “Now the green shoots of economic recovery have arrived with a (now distant) spell of sunshine, the momentum of online shopping in Q2 is even more evident. The solid Index performance in April is ahead of our 12% e-retail growth forecast for 2013, resulting in average growth of 15% year-to-date.  We expect UK.com to continue to dominate the retail picture as the recovery gathers greater momentum.”

Chris Webster, VP, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, said: “April’s results revealed the influence the shift in temperature and school holidays can have one the retail sector. With the holiday period falling at the start of April and warm weather following in the second half, we have seen uplifts in holidays, home & garden, alcohol and apparel driving the Index. Perhaps, we should have some faith that families do come together at holiday times to discuss their future holiday plans.

Although sales via mobile devices are slowing, the sector continues to grow as retailers invest in the technology to personalise the shopping experience. A rise in conversion rates suggests that consumers are using mobile devices to research and purchase goods online while on the move.”