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Published on August 3rd, 2018 | by The GC Team


Extreme weather lifts first-half online retail sales

Online retail enjoyed a 16.8% year-on-year rise in growth during the first half of 2018, with extreme weather conditions such as the Beast of the East and Britain’s hottest June in over 40 years helping the sector produce strong sales results every month.

According to the Capgemini IMRG eRetail Sales Index, e-retail has in fact seen the highest average first-half year-on-year growth since 2011 – above the 5-year average of 14.1%.

The average basket value was at its highest for the decade, at £94, outshining the 5-year average of £85.

Despite the UK being hit by freak cold weather moving into spring, online retail grew by 15.3% between January and March as high street footfall moved online. And as the nation experienced some unseasonably hot weather in April, sales went from strength to strength to record 18.2% growth between April and June.

Yet in spite of this impressive growth, conversion rates for online retailers actually decreased during every month but May. IMRG said this could be accredited to the continued trend of online shopping via smartphone devices, which are accounting for a larger share of total online sales but feature lower (albeit increasing) conversion rates. Spending via smartphone devices was up 39% in Q2 against the same quarter last year, although growth rates are inevitably starting to slow as this channel reaches maturity.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: “The performance for online sales in the first half of the year has been a lot stronger than anticipated. There are a number of factors that may be influencing that – the extreme weather events (both hot and cold), the Royal Wedding, World Cup etc. – and it might be possible that the feel-good elements associated with some of those events has encouraged people to spend a bit beyond their means.

“This could mean that we see a pinch on shopper spend as we move through Q3 (though the weather in July has been incredibly hot), which may lead to an imbalance in online retail growth between the first and second halves of the year.”

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