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November online retail sales growth lowest in seven years

Tom Bottomley
19 December 2018

Online retail sales increased by +8.1% year-on-year, the lowest November growth since 2011.

Black Friday discounting failed to rejuvenate consumer spending across the month and relieve the recent struggles for UK retailers, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index. It’s a sure sign of the times with all the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and consumer confidence at a low ebb.

It means the market experienced its lowest ever growth for a Black Friday week. While online retail appeared resilient to the struggles experienced on the high street during the first half of 2018, when growth was up 16% versus the first half of 2017, it is apparently now being impacted by the tough trading climate.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: “Black Friday was underwhelming from a revenue perspective this year and there are multiple reasons why shopper spend may not have responded as well as may have been expected. There is economic and political stability potentially impacting shopper confidence, plus the possibility that people might be becoming fatigued with the event.

“One thing that is clear from our research is that heavy discounting had been going on far in advance of Black Friday, which lessens retailers’ capacity for grabbing attention by going into Sale.”

The news this week of ASOS issuing a profit warning had already sent shockwaves through the fashion retail industry. Once regarded as untouchable, the online fashion giant has seen £1.3bn wiped off its valuation, with shares dropping almost 40% on Monday.

Despite the news, ASOS CEO and chairman bought £200,000 worth of shares a day after the profit warning. In a show of confidence in the business, chief executive Nick Beighton spent £99,700 – buying 3,645 shares for £27.35 each, while chairman Adam Crozier bought his first shares in Asos, spending £100,200 on 3,750 shares for £26.71 each.

Those prices come at a huge reduction to the retail giant’s closing price of £41.91 on Friday. The pair are either big gambling men, or have an ace up each of their sleeves.

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