Online retailers bank on warm weather boost after average April
The UK online retail sector experienced a disappointing first quarter, and Easter failed to deliver a turnaround in fortunes, with April recording sales growth of just 5.2% YoY, according to research from IMRG and Capgemini.
This compares to a strong performance in April of last year (+12.5%). In terms of channel spend, it has been an interesting year to date for mobile commerce. As the space has matured, there has been slowdown in growth over the last four years, but sales picked up in the past two quarters and Q1 saw average growth of 12.4% versus last quarter (for smartphones and tablets combined). In a complete reversal of fortunes, device sales for April, however, dropped by 20.5%, with the decrease more marked for online-only retailers (-39%) than multi-channel (-8%).
Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director, IMRG, says: “2018 was a tough year for retail generally as the industry appears to be undergoing an accelerating period of transformation. Online sales were strong in the first half of the year, but growth rates dropped toward the end of the year culminating in subdued trading over the Black Friday and Christmas peak. 2019 has seen a continuation of those trends, with clothing sales having a particularly difficult time; growth for this category has been low single-digit for six consecutive months for the first time since we started tracking it.”
He concludes: “There seems to be little sign of imminent improvement in shopper confidence; retailers will now be hoping that the warmer weather forecast over the coming weeks may stimulate greater demand, especially for those selling seasonal fashion lines.”