Online sales slowing, say retail trade body

Internet sales grew at their slowest rate on record in August, according to renowned retail experts IMRG Capgemini.

What goes up, must come down

Since 2000 the trade body’s been analysing trends in the online retail sector, and they’ve seen spends increase over the past fifteen years as shoppers shifted from high streets to screens. This August, however, saw an overall fall in online sales – down 6% on July – contributing to the worst quarterly performance since they’d started tracking the sector.

A sign of things to come?

Speaking on the decline, Andy Mulcahy, editor of IMRG said: “It’s been a bit topsy-turvy I think it’s fair to say.

“If you look at growth levels for previous years and go back to 2000, it was always going to rationalise over time. But what happened is that in 2012 and 2013, mobile really kicked in. That came in at a meteoric rate and buoyed it again.

“It meant more people were able to shop online and that people could do it in different contexts, such as on the sofa. But now that is plateauing a bit, you might see it [growth] fall away.”

However, Mulcahy also added that new technologies could still yet increase online sales, with the introduction of inventions like wearable devices potentially boosting the sector.

Could this just be a blip?

Successive studies point to the potential of online retail so this slowdown does go against the grain, and IMRG have been keen to emphasise that there could be some wider factors at play. Amongst them…

  • Customers holding back spending until Black Friday
  • Disruption from the general election impacting on sales
  • The strength of the pound putting off overseas customers
  • Households spending their money on leisure activities instead

Time will tell whether this is just a minor blip, or the beginnings of a broader trend – have you seen slowing online sales in your business? Let us know in the comments below.

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