Sep 20, 2022
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UK e-tail sales fall again, but clothing stays positive

Sep 20, 2022

The UK’s online retail sales were down for the 17th month in a row in August, with a 4.1% year-on-year (YoY) drop, reversing the positive progress seen in July. But at least clothing did well, more of which later.

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Month-on-Month (MoM), total sales were down 6.2% against July, even though a decline of 2% is more typical for this time of year. 

Year-to-Date (YTD) sales are down 14% “with no sign of respite given the financial pressures on the remainder of the year”.

That’s all according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks online sales for 200 retailers. 

While August featured some of the hottest days this year, it would be expected that some areas might benefit — like garden-related goods and food and drink that would be consumed for outdoor celebrations.

But clothing was the only category to show positive YoY growth (+2.8%), while garden (-24.5%), and beers, wines & spirits (-20.6%) actually saw the sharpest declines.

July had seen England win the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 tournament and for that month, clothing (+11.9%) and womenswear (+20%) in particular, recorded their highest positive growth in the last 12 months. 

August’s move to low single-figure growth for these categories (+2.8% and +7.6% respectively), might suggest that the football was a contributing factor to their positive performance. Or it could simply mean that the overall cost-of-living crisis was just making fashion shoppers more cautious last month.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director, IMRG: “It’s been a difficult summer for online retail, with many retailers apprehensive about how performance is going to be over peak trading. The hope is that the energy cap announcement will do something to boost shopper confidence a bit before we get into November, but even then, the omens are not good. 

“Usually, the amount of money spent online increases and decreases interchangeably in line with activity retailers are undertaking, but across July and August we recorded five weeks of decline, which is rare; there will need to be a great deal of sales growth to make up for Black Friday and peak to be positive.”

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