The latest figures from the Imrg Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index has revealed that the UK online retail sector has experienced its strongest Q1 growth in three years, representing an estimated 23.1 billion GBP spent online. During the first three months of 2014, the Index recorded a growth of 17 percent over the same period last year, which matches Imrg and Capgemini's growth forecast for the year.
These results further support the ongoing stability of the e-retail sector, which in March alone saw an annual growth of 18 percent and a 15 percent increase on February (excluding Travel sector). Britons spent approximately 7.8 billion GBP online last month, up from 6.7 billion GBP in March 2013.
Performance by sector
In terms of sector performance, a number of key retail segments stood out during the first quarter of the year. Accessories (up 34 percent), Footwear (up 22 percent), Health and Beauty (up 23 percent) and Home and Garden (up 21 percent), all recorded impressive year-on-year growth.
Over the three month period, garden products saw a surge of 40 percent, while items for the home have seen an equally respectable increase of 18 percent. The sale of items for the garden were particularly strong in March, during which the sector grew 109 percent on February 2014.
Clothing and alcohol sales also saw a strong month-on-month performance in March, recording a growth of 21 percent and 31 percent respectively.
Online shoppers spend more per purchase
Rather than the upswing in sales being credited to simply more people shopping online, it has been determined that internet shoppers are spending more per purchase. The average basket value (excluding travel) hit 86 GBP in March, making it the highest rate recorded since September last year and compares with 77 GBP in February 2014 and March 2013.
Sales via mobile devices continue to grow unabated, with m-commerce recording a year-on-year increase of 53 percent (65 percent excluding travel) in March. Conversion rates are also on the rise with the average rate recorded last month reaching a five year high of 4.2 percent.
Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at Imrg, comments:
- This solid growth represents the strongest Q1 performance since 2011 with sales up 17 percent year-on-year. Following the exceptionally wet weather in February, it appears gardening enthusiasts were making the most of the March sunshine, with sales of garden products surging over 100 percent between February and March.
Tina Spooner continues:
- With online transaction values reaching the highest level recorded in six months, and the average conversion rate for March at pre-recession levels, these results not only demonstrate an overall increase in consumer confidence, but also that online shopping is becoming a larger part of our everyday lives.
Chris Webster, VP, Head of Retail Consulting and Technology at Capgemini:
- This month's Index is a good indicator of the current strength of the UK economy. It is interesting to see that spending over the last three months was not limited to just one sector or the result of one particular influence. Rather, Britons are in good spirits, have regained confidence in the economy and using online as a means to spend across the board.
Chris Webster continues:
- The sustained high conversion rate in March also demonstrates the huge strides retailers have made in their online platforms and are continuing to focus on improving the customer experience.
Read the full report here