Growth in online retail has surged thus far in 2018, with April sales posting a 18.8% year-on-year growth, representing the greatest annual leap since November 2016.
The IMRG e-Retail Sales Index data attributed increased mobile phone use to a fifth consecutive month of decline in basket conversions. Despite the 0.15% decline, values increased on average by £14 month-on-month to £117.12 for multi-channel retailers and £3.5 for online-only outfits.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG said: “Growth in online retail sales revenue has been markedly higher than expected throughout 2018 so far. One reason is likely to be related to a turnaround in economic fortunes – while inflation outstripped wage growth for most of 2017, the gap has closed in recent months and wage growth was actually higher than inflation in March 2018. This means that, on the whole, UK shoppers should be feeling a bit more confident in making purchases. This is reflected in the data we are tracking – if we look at the last six months (Jul-Dec) of 2017, online retail sales growth was +12.2%. The first four months of 2018 has come in at +16.2%.
“What has been very apparent is that it is online retail that is benefiting, while the high street is facing a sustained downturn. Up until now, there have been multiple reasons to suspect that this split in performance may have been influenced by various external – and therefore temporary – factors; the above-average rainfall in January, the snow in February / March, Easter being early this year. The fact that April 2018 is comparing against an April last year that included Easter – with the boost to retail that it typically brings – suggests that this is not a blip. As shoppers have started to find themselves with a bit more disposable income in 2018, we are possibly witnessing an acceleration in the shift of shopper behaviour over to online.
“Much of the coverage of the downturn on the high street sees it as a negative development – but actually shoppers are still shopping as much as they did before, it’s not retail that is suffering; it’s just undergoing a digital transition at a far faster pace than was previously the case.”
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