New online sales figures from IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index have shown a drop of -22.5% in menswear sales year-on-year for September, with overall clothing sales seeing its first negative growth in over two years.
In stark contrast to previous performance where sales had major growth, it was menswear sales that suffered the most significantly. Womenswear, footwear and accessories also declined with year-on-year growth rates of -13.3%, -9.8% and -9.0% respectively.
Elsewhere the picture wasn’t all negative. Health and beauty saw sales growing by +16.4%. However, overall online sales limped up by just +0.6%.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: “September was another poor month for online sales growth. Retailers just seem to be facing so many issues at the moment, with low shopper confidence driving the need to discount and very few categories performing well. There is only one possible positive factor, which might seem slightly surprising, that could help stimulate sales growth – Brexit.
“If the UK does leave the EU by end of October, while that brings challenges and disruption for businesses, in the short-term the average person isn’t likely to notice any immediate impact. There might be a collective sigh of relief that the tedium of hearing about Brexit is finally over. We could see a degree of buoyancy in spending just in time for Black Friday and Christmas.”
Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement at Capgemini, added: “September’s results will have triggered some clear warning signs for retailers. Most notably, the clothing sector was down -1.2%, despite the average basket value remaining flat at £78 and the conversion rate increasing by +2% against last year, which indicates that low demand is the driver for the poor performance.”
Unadkat believes that increasing pressures are hitting consumer spending, with low confidence in the political climate and the warmer weather at the start of the month both attributed by retailers as critical factors in this month’s results.
“Adding to this, September saw a push for sustainability and reduction in fast fashion, with initiatives throughout the month discouraging new season purchases.”