• £6.4 billion spent online during September 2012, YoY growth of 16%
  • 15% growth forecast for Q4, with annual growth estimate revised up to 14%
  • Clothing sector experiences growth of 18 % YoY; highest since October 2011
  • Mobile retail soars again, up 312% YoY in September

The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed a solid performance for the online retail market for September, with the Index climbing 16% year-on-year  (YOY) and 11% on August – equating to British shoppers spending £6.4bn online.

With a disappointing summer for retailers ending and the distractions of the Olympics over, e-retail has begun to pick up momentum in the lead up to Christmas. IMRG and Capgemini are now forecasting 15% growth for Q4 and have raised the annual growth estimate one percentage point to 14% for 2012.

The acceleration of sales growth in the Index tallies with other positive developments in the economy, such as Inflation being at its lowest level since 2009 and the unemployment rate falling to 7.9%, all contributing to an apparent rise in consumer confidence belying the sluggish economic performance reported in GDP figures.

Sales via mobile devices have continued to rise at a remarkable pace, with September’s figures coming in at 312% YoY. Interestingly, the conversion rate of 1.9% for September is the highest recorded to date and shows how important mobile devices are becoming in the online purchasing journey.

Strong YoY growth of 54% in the gifts sector indicates that shoppers are gearing up for Christmas already and stocking up early to spread the cost and benefit from summer stock discounting. Clothing sales online grew 18%, the highest YoY growth since October 2011, with the sector benefiting from the cool and unsettled seasonable weather in the second half of the month[1] .

YoY growth for online-only retailers continues to exceed that of multichannel retailers. However, in September the difference in growth rate fell to just 3% – a pattern attributed to shoppers returning to the high street after a packed calendar of summer events and disappointing weather kept them indoors over the summer.

Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini says:  “September marked the return of online retail to strong double digit growth levels and rounded off Q3 on an encouraging note with a16% year on year growth.
“The Queen’s Jubilee, the European Championships, the Olympics and a capricious weather pattern have all left their indelible marks on this year’s e-retail trajectory. The difference in growth rates between online-only and multichannel retailers was just 3% for this month, narrowing a gap which opened up around one year ago. Also, the upward trend in mobile conversion rate indicates the steady infiltration of smart phones and tablets as a buying device now, which used to be more of a browsing tool in the past. Online retailers should wake up to this change and include a smart phone mobile shopping application or mobile web in their multichannel offering platter
. ”

Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG said: “The solid Index performance in September rounds off the third quarter with 15% annual growth for the online retail sector.  This is the strongest quarterly growth recorded since Q2 last year and is perhaps an indicator that overall consumer confidence is increasing.  The cooler and unsettled weather towards the end of September gave a much-welcomed boost to the clothing sector, with annual growth at its highest level since October last year.

“Mobile commerce continued to soar in September, and the upward trend in the conversion of browsers to buyers is evidence that consumer behaviour is being transformed by mobile devices. Retailers that integrate the mobile platform as an essential part of their multichannel strategies will no doubt continue to reap the rewards over the lucrative festive shopping period.”

September eRSI

Industry Quotes
Omid Rezvani, Director of Mobile Solutions, eCommera comments: “With the summer gone and the Olympics behind us the latest m-commerce data shows that consumers have returned to developing their mobile shopping habits with renewed confidence. The near 30% monthly increase in non-travel m-commerce is extremely strong whilst the steady rise in conversion figures continues to reinforce the importance of mobile devices in the consumer journey, not just for product research, but for sales.
“With smartphone penetration now well above 50% all retailers need to recognise the implications of the data and to optimise their online sites to welcome mobile browser visitors working their way through their Christmas list. Furthermore, those retailers with a well-designed mobile app should be well placed to increase conversion and average order value through greater use of personalisation and assisted in-store sales

Notes to Editors
About IMRG
IMRG (Interactive Media In Retail Group) is the UK’s industry association for e-retail. Formed in 1990, IMRG is setting and maintaining pragmatic and robust e-Retail Standards to enable fast-track industry growth, and facilitates its community of members with practical help, information, tools, guidance and networking. Consumers can be confident when dealing with IMRG Members because all have committed to operate using methods that are Honest, Decent, Legal, Truthful and Fair, and have undertaken to not bring the industry into disrepute. The strength of IMRG is the collective and co-operative power of its members.

About Capgemini
With around 120,000 people in 40 countries, Capgemini is one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services. The Group reported 2011 global revenues of EUR 9.7 billion. Together with its clients, Capgemini creates and delivers business and technology solutions that fit their needs and drive the results they want. A deeply multicultural organisation, Capgemini has developed its own way of working, the Collaborative Business ExperienceTM, and draws on Rightshore®, its worldwide delivery model.
Learn more about us at www.capgemini.com.
Rightshore® is a trademark belonging to Capgemini

About the ‘IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index’
The IMRG Capgemini Index, which was started in April 2000, tracks ‘online sales’, which we define as ‘transactions completed fully, including payment, via interactive channels’ from any location, including in-store.  These sales are predominantly internet-based today, but the Index remains ready to record e-retail sales conducted via whatever interactive channels the market may embrace in the future.

Index Participants
Around one hundred e-retailers now regularly contribute data to the IMRG Capgemini Index, including A. Hume Country Clothing, Airport Parking & Hotels Ltd, Amara, Arcadia Group (Burton, Top Man, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis, Miss Selfridge), Ask Direct, ASOS.com, Bank, Berry Bros & Rudd,  Binends.com, Blacks, Boden.co.uk, Boohoo.com, Boots Direct, Boutique to You, Brandosa.co.uk, Brora, Buyagift.com, BuyItDirect.co.uk, Carphone Warehouse, Charles Clinkard, Charles Tyrwhitt,  Clarks, Cloggs, Cocosa, Co-operative Travel, Crocus.co.uk, Dabs.com, Damart, Debenhams, Effortless Skin, Ethical Superstore, Firebox, First Choice, Freemans Grattan Holdings, Furniture123, Game, Gamestation, Getting Personal.co.uk, Greenfingers.com, Home & Cook, House of Fraser, JD Sports, J D Williams, John Lewis Partnership, Ladderstore.com, Lastminute.com, LK Bennett, Lookfantastic.com, Lyco Direct, M and M Direct, Majestic Wine, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, Millets, Naked Wines, NaturalCollection.com, New Look, Next, Perfect Handbags, PetPlanet.co.uk, Philip Kingsley, PIXmania, Prezzybox.com, Purely Gadgets, QVC, Redfoot Revolution, Richer Sounds, Sainsbury’s, Scales Express, Schuh, Scotlight Direct, Scott, Shoe-Shop.com, Shop Direct Home Shopping (Additions, Great Universal, Kays, Littlewoods, Empire, Woolworths, Very, Isme), Serenata Flowers, Size, Slurp.co.uk, Sofa and Home, Sparkling Strawberry, Sunshine.co.uk, Tesco.com, The Body Shop,  The Fragrance Shop, The Mat Factory, The Natural Skincare Co, The Natural Store, The White Company, ToxicFox, TUI UK, Turton Wines, Waitrose, Warehouse, Wilkinson Hardware & Wynsors World of Shoes.

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[1] http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk