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June spike an anomaly as online retail sales slump to lowest ever July growth

  • Month records lowest ever July Year-on-Year online sales increase of just +4.4%
  • Result falls well short of the 5-year average (+10.2%), as well as the 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month rolling averages (respectively +4.9%, +4.9%, +6.5%)
  • Month-on-Month performance was down -5.7%; below 5-year average
  • Clothing also fell below the 5-year average (+8.6%), increasing by just +4.5%
  • BWS recorded the first negative growth for the year, down -19.7%

LONDON UK – August 22, 2019: Following a month of improved sales in June, retailers failed to maintain the positive momentum in July, with online sales growth slowing to just +4.4% Year-on-Year (YoY) and falling by -5.7% Month-on-Month (MoM), according to the latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers. Despite the scorching weather and notable online shopping events like Amazon Prime Day, these figures represented the lowest ever July YoY increase, and came in well below the 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month rolling averages (respectively +4.9%, +4.9%, +6.5%). 

Delving into the categories, clothing sales followed a similar pattern to the overall result, with positive growth of +4.5% failing to match June’s 2019 high of +15.7% or the 5-year average of +8.6%. After recording its strongest performance of the year in June (+31.2%), menswear saw a significant drop in growth to just +10.4%. Meanwhile, both accessories and womenswear were down (-13.3% and -8.7% respectively), and womenswear saw its average basket value decrease by a third compared to last year.

Looking elsewhere, even the hottest day of the year did little to boost categories like BWS and home and garden, both of which recorded negative growth in July. With no World Cup to spark celebrations and commiserations, BWS was down -19.7% compared to its strong performance last July (+32.9%). Garden sales also fell by -44.6% (compared to +22% in 2018), contributing to a low overall growth for home and garden of +5.4%.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG, said: Online sales growth had been subdued throughout the first half of 2019, but in June there seemed to be a bit of a bounce-back that hinted toward growth picking up again. However, there is now evidence that the June performance was artificially inflated by heavy discounting to stimulate sales activity, and it seems likely that some of that volume was pulled forward from July.

There is usually a dip between June and July, but this year it was down -5.7%, a sharper decline than the five-year average of -1.1%. The clearest indication came from clothing, which recorded its strongest growth in over a year in June (+15.7%), but the average basket value (ABV) was down around 25%, suggesting that the rise was driven by discounting. In July the ABV held up for clothing but growth was just +4.5%, with shoppers being less responsive to their campaigns, while womenswear retailers were having to work very hard to drive sales – the ABV decreased by around a-third versus last year.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement, Capgemini, said: “July disappoints after a better June performance, falling back to +4.4 vs last year which is just below the average performance for the year of +5.4%.  Over the last three months pure online retailers have fared better than multichannel players online, maintaining consistent growth above +8%.  This compares to a much more volatile performance, jumping from -0.1% to +8% in May to June, and +4% in July, indicating that multichannel online sales are more sensitive to sales activity as consumers seek out the best deals.

The outlook remains uncertain for retailers into half two as consumer spending is cautious and confidence low, yet GFK has reported that the major purchase index has increased six points back into positive territory this month.  This could hint that customers will be more willing to make considered purchases over the coming months rather than impulse buys.  As we lead into the peak season retailers will therefore need to focus on winning share of wallet amongst an increasingly competitive online market.”

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About the ‘IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index’ 

The IMRG Capgemini Index, which was started in April 2000, tracks 'online sales', which we define as 'transactions completed fully, including payment, via interactive channels' from any location, including in-store.  

About IMRG 

For over 20 years, IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) has been the voice of e-retail in the UK. We are a membership community comprising businesses of all sizes – multichannel and pureplay, SME and multinational, and solution providers to industry. We support our members through a range of activities – including market tracking and insight, benchmarking and best practice sharing. Our indexes provide in-depth intelligence on online sales, mobile sales, delivery trends and over 40 additional KPIs. Our goal is to ensure our members have the information and resources they need to succeed in rapidly-evolving markets – both domestically and internationally. www.imrg.org  

About Capgemini 

A global leader in consulting, technology services and digital transformation, Capgemini is at the forefront of innovation to address the entire breadth of clients’ opportunities in the evolving world of cloud, digital and platforms. Building on its strong 50-year heritage and deep industry-specific expertise, Capgemini enables organizations to realize their business ambitions through an array of services from strategy to operations. Capgemini is driven by the conviction that the business value of technology comes from and through people. It is a multicultural company of over 200,000 team members in more than 40 countries. The Group reported 2018 global revenues of EUR 13.2 billion.

 Visit us at www.capgemini.com. People matter, results count.

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