Online retail sales for June recorded the strongest growth this year, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, with sales rising +8.5% year on year and a particularly strong performance from clothing though this was driven by discounting.
Sales were up +5.1% on May, above the five-year average for June, multichannel was up +8.5% and online only retailers were up +8.1%.
In terms of standout category, clothing recorded the highest growth so far this year with a rise of +15.7%. This was buoyed by good results in both menswear, which saw its strongest performance of 2019 at +31.2%, and womenswear, which reversed last month’s negative growth to achieve an increase of +3.3% versus 2018.
Accessories and footwear did not fare as well, however, with accessories sales declining to their lowest ever June growth (-7.4%) and footwear also falling by -8.8%.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG, says: “The trading environment for online retail in the first half of the year has been tough. For the previous three months from March to May, growth was just +2.2%. June then can be interpreted as a bounce-back, particularly given it was building on strong growth of +16.1% in June 2018.”
Mulcahy, however, points out that discounting has been heavy so the margins achieved may not be high. He comments: “Online clothing sales were up +15.7%, but the average basket value for clothing was down -25%. That doesn’t suggest shopper confidence is very high.”
With end-of-season sales now in full swing, the key now for retailers is whether they can come out of discounting and maintain a reasonable level of sales growth before it gets too close to the Black Friday period.
“Otherwise we may be in for another difficult peak where the rates of discount are wider and deeper than many retailers would like,” adds Mulcahy.