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Warm weather blamed for slowest growth in online sales since 2010

New figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed that annual UK online retail sales grew by 7% in September to mark the second lowest ever growth rate in the index and the slowest growth since 2010.


Warm weather blamed for slowest growth in online sales since 2010

While an estimated £8.2 billion was spent online, multi-channel retailers were found to be more successful than online only retailers in resisting the downward trend. Multi-channel retailers saw 8% year-on-year growth compared to 5% for online only merchants.

The clothing sector grew by just 0.3%, the lowest ever growth recorded for the sector, as the unseasonably warm weather discouraged shoppers from updating their autumn wardrobes. Footwear slowed to 4.5% year-on-year but accessories continued to perform strongly with sales up by 48%.

The figures show that average growth overall in the third quarter reached 13% year-on-year. The electrical sector sustained strong growth of 15% in the same period, driven by strong consumer demand for the new iPhone 6 range, launched in September. Meanwhile, the home and garden and alcohol sectors benefited from the warm summer and milder autumn with growth rates of 17% and 16% respectively.   

Despite the continued migration to mobile commerce, this sector saw the lowest growth rate at 29%, which is a significant drop from the previous all-time low of 36%.  

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, explained: “As clothing and fashion merchants launched their autumn/winter ranges, temperatures during September reached levels significantly above early autumn averages so it is no surprise that winter coats and boots were not at the top of our online shopping lists.

“This is not the first time we have seen unseasonal weather having a detrimental effect on e-retail sales, however, on a more positive note, it appears the milder temperatures during September boosted sales of beer, wine and spirits and garden products.

“As we enter the fourth quarter and retailers prepare for the key festive trading period, we expect growth levels to return to the consistent double-digit figures we have seen throughout 2014.”  

Adgild Hop, principal and head of retail consulting at Capgemini, added: “As is so often the case, weather has once again influenced retail growth this month.  Retailers across the UK, but in particular those retailers with more seasonal trade, will no doubt be hoping to recoup some of the lost sales before markdown pressures take over. 

"In addition to lying awake at night worrying about the fast approaching Black Friday and Cyber Monday as the prelude to Christmas, no doubt a lot of retailers will be saying a little prayer to the weather gods.”

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