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Wet weather impacts online clothing sales

UK shoppers spent an estimated £5.7 billion online in April, a year-on-year growth of 10% and equivalent to £112 per person, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.


Wet weather impacts online clothing sales

Although this growth level comes in lower than IMRG Capgemini’s 13% estimate for the year, April 2011 was a strong comparison month, boosted by the Royal Wedding, with the market recording 19% growth and sales of beer, wine and spirits up 55%.

While the market in general managed double-digit growth, the wettest April on record had a negative impact on sales of summer clothes with the clothing sector recording growth of just 1%, the lowest in the 11 years it has been tracked in the Index. However the wet weather benefited the travel sector, which saw sales jump 20% year-on-year as consumers flocked online to search for dryer destinations.

As more retailers offer mobile-optimised websites the number of consumers converting to mobile transactions is increasing with April m-commerce registering a 353% rise year-on-year. 

The average m-commerce conversion rate is also improving. In April the m-commerce rate was only 2.4% lower than the April e-retail rate at 1.3%, compared with 0.8% in April last year. IMRG said this suggests that shoppers who would previously only browse mobile stores to check for bargains and compare prices are now also making purchases via the channel.

The electrical sector benefited from the launch of the iPad3 at the end of March which helped the sector to reach year-on-year growth of 26%, the highest since August 2010.

Chris Webster, head of retail and technology at Capgemini, said: "April was another month to maintain pace for online retail with sales growing 10% on the same month last year, despite the dampening effects of a wet and chilly weather. Consumers continue their steady march to migrate their purchases online which means that the high street suffers the brunt of a slackening economy.

"Mobile commerce continues to surge ahead as the latest shopping trend of customers on the go. It would be a good strategic move for multichannel retailers to power ahead with m-commerce and include it in their portfolio."

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, added: "While the 10% annual growth recorded in April is lower than the 13% uplift seen in the first quarter, it should be noted that this is on the back of a strong performance in April last year when online retail sales were up 19% year-on-year.

"The slowdown in sales of clothing over recent months may be an indication that this sector is showing signs of reaching maturity. Year-to-date sales of clothing are up 10% year-on-year, compared with 28% annual growth recorded in the period January to April last year.  On a more positive note, sales of electricals were at their strongest level in over 18 months, no doubt boosted by sales of the recently launched iPad 3." 

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