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Online retail news in brief (2 May 2018)

By IMRG

In case you missed them, we’ve pulled together a few online retail news highlights from around the web this week.

Here are some of the latest stories in online retail.

Solid first-quarter growth for online retail orders

Online retail delivery order volumes were up +9.6% year-on-year in March, according to the latest data from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index. This completes what has been a solid first-quarter for online retail order volumes, with total growth for the quarter finishing up +12.5% (versus a forecast of +13% for 2018 as a whole). Over the same period, online retail sales revenue growth was up +15.4%.

Q1 2018 — weakest economic growth since 2012

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK economy grew only 0.1% in Q1, after having grown 0.4% in Q4 2017.

The figure is a first estimate, and when more data becomes available, the ONS may revise it.

Rob Kent-Smith, head of national accounts at the ONS: "Our initial estimate shows the UK economy growing at its slowest pace in more than five years with weaker manufacturing growth, subdued consumer-facing industries and construction output falling significantly. While the snow had some impact on the economy, particularly in construction and some areas of retail, its overall effect was limited with the bad weather actually boosting energy supply and online sales."

Supermarkets sign plastic pact

Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose and Tesco have signed a pact to make all plastic packaging recycled, recyclable, or biodegradable by 2025.

The current Packaging Recovery Note (PRN) scheme from the government provides evidence that packaging waste has been recycled, though changes to the scheme are expected this summer.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove: “Our ambition to eliminate avoidable plastic waste will only be realised if government, businesses, and the public work together. Industry action can prevent excess plastic reaching our supermarket shelves in the first place. I am delighted to see so many businesses sign up to this pact and I hope others will soon follow suit.”

Grocery growth ‘pedestrian’

According to Nielsen, online grocery sales grew a third faster than in-store sales in 2017. Online hit £6.6bn, having grown 4.6%. While that growth outstripped bricks-and-mortar grocery, online’s share grew only 0.1% from 6.3% to 6.4%.

Aylin Ceylan, Nielsen business analytics partner, suggested that shoppers tend not to commit to one or the other, rather that they buy in the way it suits them when it suits them, perhaps making large orders online less frequently, and heading in store for ‘top-up’ shops. That culture could account for the fact that online hasn’t instantly revolutionised grocery shopping at the expense of stores.

47% of UK adults want to delete digital history

Around half of UK adults want to permanently delete some of their online history, according to research from Accenture, who surveyed 2,000 people in the run up to the GDPR regulation due to come into force this month.

70% of respondents also agreed that people should have the right to be forgotten online, with the most popular targets for deletion being photos posted by others, regrettable social media posts, search history, shopping habits, and credit history.

Demand for retail property lowest since 2009

43% of respondents to the RICS UK Commercial Property Market Survey saw demand for retail property drop in Q1 2018, in a period which saw demand fall to the lowest level since 2009 and the height of the financial crisis.

The survey found that 43% was also the figure of respondents who saw increased availability in retail property. RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn: “It has been hard to escape the grim news from the high street in recent months with a whole host of well-known names either closing down or looking to scale back their footprint. The results from our latest survey of chartered surveyors suggests that this challenging environment is unlikely to let up anytime soon.”

Wildlife photographer of the year disqualified for taxidermy

Wildlife photography winner

The winner of the ‘Animals in Their Environment’ category at the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest was stripped of his title last week, after his entry was ruled to have been staged using a stuffed anteater.

After third parties raised concern about the photograph, the Natural History Museum, which runs the contest, gave the photo to a panel of five scientists, who concluded independently that the anteater in the photograph bore an uncanny and suspicious resemblance to the stuffed anteater at the Emas National Park.

The photographer contests the result, maintaining that the anteater’s appearance in the shot was “a surprise bonus” and that “it would be very unlikely anyone wouldn't see a stuffed animal being transported and placed carefully in this position."

Stuffed anteater

Has he stuffed his chances of winning?

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