According to IMRG, it was the “Weakest August in 15 years for online retail sales”. In this context, “weakest” is a relative term reflecting the fact that online retail sales grew by only five per cent on August last year.
The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index points out that August 2014 was particularly strong with an 18 per cent year-on-year increase. Not only that, the bank holiday was late this year and will be included in the September figures, and there was a delay in back to school shopping.
Even allowing for these factors, year to date growth stands at ten per cent.
And that is pretty impressive compared to what is happening in the high street. The British Retail Consortium reports that footfall in August was 1.6 per cent lower than a year ago. The BRC/Springboard study found that high streets were down 2.3 per cent and shopping centres were down 2.8 per cent. Only retail park locations reported a year on year increase – but it was only 1.7 per cent.
No wonder there is such a difference between the comments from the BRC and IMRG. BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “These numbers are a clear demonstration of the continued pressures the UK retail industry is facing. We know that retailers are steadily maintaining sales but at lower prices and to fewer people visiting physical stores.
“As we start the long march to Christmas, retailers will want to see an increase in shopper numbers in all store locations.”
In contrast, Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG suggested that “it’s likely that the record August low was actually a blip caused by a number of factors” and “looking ahead, we expect September’s Index results to be back on track with our 2015 growth forecast, considering it will on the back of single-digit growth during September 2014.”
For retailers managing the very different performance of these two channels is a complex task – particularly as we run in to Black Friday and Christmas.
And it will no doubt generate considerable discussion at the Omni-Channel Conference which kicks off in London tomorrow.
In fact, Andrew Starkey, head of e-logistics at IMRG, is one of the speakers at the conference which also includes leading high street and online retailers.
I hope to see you there. Click here if you would like to find out more.