E-commerce sales growth slowing

The latest e-retail sales figures for 2009 show a continued year-on-year increase, but growth has slowed and monthly sales fell by two per cent.

Shoppers with trollies on computer keyboard

E-commerce sales grew by 14 per cent compared to April 2008, according to the latest quarterly IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index figures released today.

But, while online shopping continues to deliver year-on-year overall sales growth, the index also found that growth is slowing, as the market matures and consumers spend more cautiously during the recession.

This is the ninth year that the e-Retail Sales Index has been published, in which time IMRG estimated UK internet shoppers have spent around 200 billion online, yet month-on-month sales fell for the first time, by two per cent.

But Mike Petevinos, UK head of Capgemini Retail was keen to highlight the overall positive growth in the sector, where UK shoppers were also seen to be spending 10 more online per visit compared to a year ago.

"The e-retail industry continues to perform well during the recession with year on year growth at around 15 per cent being achieved consistently over the last 10 months," he said.

Tina Spooner, director of information at IMRG, added: "Since 2000, internet shopping has soared by over 5,000 per cent. Internet shopping is clearly the bright spot in the UK retail sector but this industry is still young and has great potential for further growth."

But Petevinos added: "It is, however, clear that the online market is maturing, with seasonal fluctuations becoming more noticeable in certain sectors, as they are no longer obscured by the 50 per cent plus year-on-year growth rates of the past."

Sales of beers wines and spirits rose by 10 per cent this April compared to the previous month, as the index said looming budget spurred people on to stock up on alcohol before the recent Budget's duty increases.

But sales of accessories, footwear and lingerie showed signs of contraction, leading UK online clothing sales to post a first every monthly fall in April of two per cent. This still contributed to year-on-year growth of 17 per cent, compared to yearly growth in April 2008 of 30 per cent and 54 per cent in April 2007.

Meanwhile, gifts saw the largest monthly fall of 51 per cent, as consumers further reigned in their spending in this category after Mother's Day in March.

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