Online sales have shown strong growth in January, rebounding quickly from Christmas 2015 sales that peaked in November. The latest statistics bring both relief and excitement for retailers as it shows a strong indication that consumer confidence is continuing to grow.
The latest IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, suggests that ecommerce sales grew by 15% last month, excluding travel sales. This is more than double the 7% boost recorded in January 2015. This suggests that the Black Friday effect of a lingering post-Christmas slump was not repeated this year.
“The latest index results reveal a strong start to the year for the UK online retail industry, with annual growth reaching the second-highest rate recorded over the past 14 months,” said Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer, IMRG.
The latest data comes as a surprise with 2016 sales now ahead of forecasted growth figures. The index also showed much faster growth in sales via smartphones than those made via tablet computers, continuing a trend that is seeing performance of the devices diverge significantly. Annual growth for tablets was up by just 13%, while smartphone growth was up 96%.
“The divergence between the use of mobile devices is becoming increasingly apparent – growth rates via smartphones surged 96% year-on-year, with confidence in using them for shopping most likely boosted by the design shift toward larger screens, together with improved retailer mobile sites. Conversely, growth in sales completed on tablet devices fell below the overall online growth rate for the first time since we started tracking it – up 13% from January last year,”
Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer, IMRG.
The sustained growth of sales via smartphones and tablets is a further indication that retailers need to adopt mobile friendly platforms. Retailers who have invested in developing the customer experience across mobile devices are now greatly benefiting and pulling ahead of the competition.
Sales of clothing and electrical items, both grew by 15% year-on-year – the highest annual growth for the electrical sector since November 2014. The travel sector enjoyed its usual peak in January, with sales up by 11% on the previous year, and 188% compared to the previous month of December.
However, ‘dry January’ seems to have left its mark, with sales of alcohol down by 2% compared to the previous year, and 65% compared to December. Online sales of accessories sector grew by 12% – the lowest year-on-year increase the IMRG has seen in this category, and the first time it has lagged behind the wider index.
Competition is heating up online and having a visually striking website is no longer enough to attract and retain customers. Technical attributes such as page loading speed, ease of checkout and mobile responsiveness are all significant factors that will contribute to online success during 2016.
With positive ecommerce growth forecast for the remainder of the year, ecommerce operators need to invest in further development of their website, or risk falling behind the competition.
To discuss your site and explore development opportunities, please get in touch.