According to figures just released by the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) Capgemini Index, Easter failed to provide the expected boost in online sales, which came in at just +5.2% year-on-year, under half of last year’s results which were +12.5% year-on-year.
The fashion sector continued to be particularly sluggish in performance, with growth remaining in single digits. This continues an ongoing trend of subdued growth seen since the start of 2019.
During the first quarter of this year, the Index recorded average sales growth of +7.5%, which is the lowest quarterly growth since Q1 2015 (+6%). Comparatively, the same quarter last year delivered growth of +14.5%.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: “2018 was a tough year for retail generally as the industry appears to be undergoing an accelerating period of transformation. Online sales were strong in the first half of the year, but growth rates dropped toward the end of the year culminating in subdued trading over the Black Friday and Christmas peak.
“2019 has seen a continuation of those trends, with clothing sales having a particularly difficult time; growth for this category has been low single-digit for six consecutive months for the first time since we started tracking it.”
Mulcahy warns that there seems to be little sign of imminent improvement in shopper confidence, and retailers will now be hoping that the warmer weather forecast over the coming weeks may stimulate greater demand, especially for those selling seasonal fashion lines.
Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement at Capgemini, commented: “Easter 2018 fell between March and April, so we were hopeful the figures for April 2019 would be favourable considering a full Easter performance, and given the slow performance in March, but this did not seem to be the case given the 5.2% increase year-on-year.”