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Online retail sales subdued in face of late Easter

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With no repeat of last year’s Beast from the East snowstorms and a later Easter pushing back holiday spend, the online retail industry recorded growth of just 5% year-on-year in March against a tough comparator last year.

According to the latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, while still positive growth, this subdued performance fell significantly below the month rolling averages.

Breaking it down further, online-only retailers saw marginally better results – growing 9% versus multichannel retailers’ at 5%.

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Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: “While on the surface of it 5% growth may not seem very positive, there are actually two possible interpretations.

“On the one hand it looks bad as it’s below the three, six and 12-month rolling averages of 7.5%, 7.1% and 10.2% respectively; it’s also the lowest of the first quarter of 2019.

“On the other hand, this growth is against a strong base from March 2018, which featured Easter (home and garden online sales were down 15% in the equivalent week in March this year) and freezing temperatures that kept people away from high streets and boosted online sales in 2018.

“As Easter falls in April this year, the growth rate for that month will determine whether March’s performance can be considered good, bad or indifferent given those factors – not to mention the continuing general macro-economic pressures on retail.”

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Joe Peskett

The author Joe Peskett

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