Slowing October online retail growth indicative of pre-Black Friday lull

IMRG online fashion e-commrce

Online retail growth in October was up by 12.6%, which is lower than both the average year-on-year growth rate of 14.3% for the last three months (Aug-Oct), and the 5-year October average of 14%.

It was a particularly tough month for fashion as both menswear and womenswear experienced their lowest year-on-year growth for October since IMRG records began in 2000, at 0% and 2% respectively.

The sluggish growth, coupled with a dip in average conversion rate, which came in a 4.4% against a three-year average of 4.8%, suggested that people were browsing online to research potential buys ahead of the Black Friday discount period which is now underway, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

On a more positive note October’s Average Basket Value (ABV) was the highest for October in nine years at £94. This high value indicates that shoppers were spending more per visit, which could suggest that they were checking out with multiple items driven by ongoing discounting, say IMRG Capgemini.

Capgemini principal consultant in retail customer engagement Bhavesh Unadkat said it had been a particularly “bleak” month for retail, which you would normally expect ecommerce to benefit from, however “the interest rate hike, the bad weather and anticipation of Black Friday did little to help the cause – covering up October’s truly underwhelming performance if anything”.

“These coming three months, October through to December, will be important to view performance as a whole and be indicative of whether people are waiting longer before they spend on Christmas. Black Friday and the Autumn Budget are both important factors in this, so hopefully we will see Philip Hammond outlining some form of catalyst to boost consumer confidence this November,” he added.

IMRG managing director Julian Opie said he hoped that some of the research shoppers carried out in October and the Black Friday discount period should lead to an improved picture for November. “October was a very average month in the context of 2017, with growth of 12.6% exactly in line with the Jan-Oct year-to-date rate. As the fall in conversion rate suggests, shoppers have been well trained to expect the best deals to be available during the Black Friday period, so we can anticipate that November will convert a degree of that early research into sales,” he said.