The monthly IMRG Capgemini  e-Retail Sales Index was released this week. Previous reports have pointed to the steady increase in sales through online and mobile channels. However, this month’s Index showed a surprising decline between June and July’s online retail sales – unsurprising given June’s high increases.

The 2% decline in online spending versus June was interpreted by experts as a temporary lull in the growth of online retail due to the summer heat-wave. Alex Smith Bingham, VP Consumer Products and Retail at Capgemini Consulting said that: “the warm weather encouraged shoppers to leave their homes and shop on the high street to enjoy the sunshine.  I have no doubt online sales will return to high growth as we countdown to Christmas.

Although only a small reduction, and a trend that is predicted to reverse, the coverage attracted a significant amount of media attention. The coverage centred on the revival of ‘bricks and mortar’ high-street stores, and the improved growth of online-only channels versus multi-channel stores. In the midst of the online spending figures was the 129% year-on-year increase in mobile spending, supplemented by an improved 2.5% conversion rate. The more creative writers covering this story produced mental images of consumers sunning themselves in garden hammocks whilst making purchases on hand-held devices.

Vanessa Houlder in the FT remarked upon the heat-wave as the reason for the decline in online spend. Interestingly she also raised other research that pointed to this as a trend of a return to ‘higher footfall’ in high street stores.

BBC News referred to the Index as part of its coverage on the recovery of the UK economy, referring to the contributing effect of the hot weather to the decline in online spending for July; Alex Smith-Bingham was quoted again.

The report was covered by other print media including the Daily Telegraph (contrasting online spend to the general increase in high-street), City AM (“a reversal of fortunes” for online retailers) and the Retail Times (“weakest annual growth since 2010”).