• £5.2 billion spent online during April; year-on-year increase of 19% as strong start gathers pace
  • Bank holidays boost alcohol sales, with average order reaching £174, nearly double April 2010
  • Travel sector suffers  as rising temperatures and Royal Wedding persuade Brits to stay at home
  • Clothing sector up 32% year-on-year as early sunshine prompts changes in wardrobe

Make mine a double

The strong online showing was undoubtedly driven by the bank holidays, Royal Wedding and of course the glorious sunshine. Of all the sectors, alcohol saw the most significant growth, increasing 55% year-on-year and up 20% on March. Most significantly, the average order value reached £174, the highest basket value since November 2007, before the start of the recession, and nearly double that of April 2010.

The scorching early summer sunshine confirmed it as the hottest April since 1910[3], which had a clear impact on the clothing sector. The rising climes drove consumers online to update their wardrobes. Compared with April 2010, the sector climbed a whopping 32%; 8% more than March 2011. Another sector benefitting from the warmer weather was home and garden, which probably received a boost by Brits pondering the prospect of basking in the sun. The sector grew 14% year-on-year and 11% month-on-month.

Not all the sectors benefitted from the soaring temperatures, however. Spend on travel continued to disappoint in April, with the Index reporting an 8% drop from March and a lowly 1% increase from April last year. This can be attributed to two likely factors: the struggling economy and ongoing austerity measures being implemented by the Government, combined with the warm weather, have possibly convinced consumers that a ‘staycation’ is a good alternative to costly trips overseas.

Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini says: “April was a very strong month for the online retail sector. 19% annual growth demonstrates, once again, the value consumers and retailers alike are placing on e-commerce. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that consumers continue to spend on-line, despite rising inflation and stagnant wages, resulting in a very flat performance on the high-street.”

Tina Spooner, Director of Information at IMRG comments: “These are highly encouraging results, with growth continuing largely in-line with our estimation for 2011. The excellent growth in the alcohol and clothing sectors is very revealing in terms of modern consumer shopping behaviour; instead of just impulsively rushing out to the shops as soon as the sun comes out to buy the appropriate wares, people are browsing online to get access to the widest possible choice and ensure that they secure the best deals in these tough economic times.”

IMRG and Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index for April 2011

Industry quotes

Michael Norton, managing director, PayPoint.net, says:

The online retail industry continues to go from strength to strength despite the plight of the high street. Our data showed a 45% increase in the number of transactions compared with the same time last year as well as an increase of 34% in consumer spend. It is likely that the combination of the bank holiday weekends and the Royal Wedding has fuelled growth in the sector as consumers seek to avoid the crowds and shop at their convenience.”

Russ Carroll, UK Managing Director of Shopping.com, comments:
Consumers clearly enjoyed the holiday atmosphere that hit Britain in April. The early sunshine and April Bank Holidays helped to maintain strong growth for the e-retail market and Shopping.com continued to see high demand in its leading categories of health & beauty, clothing and baby care & toys. It’s encouraging that consumers continue to turn online in order to stay shopping savvy and get the best value for money and choice, from the convenience of their own homes or indeed while on the move using mobile apps.”

Brett Dawson, owner of Turton Wines, said:
There were happy faces at Turton Wines in April this year, with the early thaw bringing a huge boost to internet sales. Happily, whilst the number of customers rose, so did the average value and the number of bottles ordered. This triple whammy meant a big surge in the online sales value with a 275% increase from April 2010. We put this down to the summery weather with a large increase in white and rose sales but also to the Royal wedding. Prosecco in particular was in big demand and so were Champagnes from the smaller houses rather than the big named brands.

“We hope the anticipated summer heat wave said to arrive late May will also have a positive effect on sales, both over counter and internet alike. The increase of Eastern Europeans and their styles and influences has also had a positive effect on sales with wines from Georgia being responsible for over 60% of internet sales.”

Chris Simpson, Marketing Director, Kelkoo, comments:
Spring is in the air for the online retail sector as they reap the rewards of a bumper bank holiday season and the buoyant mood brought on by the Royal Wedding. Our own research concluded that the royal nuptials would provide online retailers with an added boost of £90.7 million, thanks to the nation splashing out on celebratory street parties, merchandise, and souvenirs and the latest figures from the e-Retail Sales Index bear this out with the 19% surge in online sales seen year on year. All this provides solid evidence that consumers really have learnt some valuable lessons from the financial downturn and are shopping online to get the best deals across a range of retail goods.”

Mark Lewis, CEO of Collect+, said:

Public holidays are an occasion when alternative delivery services really come into their own: Collect+ processed four times as many parcels in April 2011 than it did during the same period last year. Many small businesses and individuals cannot wait until the working week to be able to send a parcel or package, but the traditional services usually cease to operate on these days. Collect+ is going from strength to strength as the appetite for a more convenient and flexible service increases among the busy population.”

Notes to Editors
About IMRG
IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) is the industry association for global 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 interact in an environment where they are encouraged 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 cooperative power of its members. For more information please visit http://www.imrg.org/ or email market@imrg.org

About Capgemini
Capgemini, one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services, enables its clients to transform and perform through technologies. Capgemini provides its clients with insights and capabilities that boost their freedom to achieve superior results through a unique way of working, the Collaborative Business ExperienceTM. The Group relies on its global delivery model called Rightshore®, which aims to get the right balance of the best talent from multiple locations, working as one team to create and deliver the optimum solution for clients. Present in more than 30 countries, Capgemini reported 2009 global revenues of EUR 8.4 billion and employs 90,000 people worldwide.
More information is available 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.

Around one hundred e-retailers now regularly contribute data to the IMRG Capgemini Index, including Airport Parking & Hotels Ltd, Amara, Arcadia Group (Burton, Top Man, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis, Miss Selfridge), Ask Direct, ASOS.com, Beautique.com, Binends.com, Blacks, Boden.co.uk, Boohoo.com, Boots Direct,Brora, Buyagift.com, BuyItDirect.co.uk, Carphone Warehouse, Charles Tyrwhitt,  Clarks, Cloggs, Comet, Co-operative Travel, Crocus.co.uk, Dabs.com, Damart, Debenhams, Dobbies, e-flowersUK.co.uk, Ethical Superstore, Figleaves.com, Firebox, First Choice, Freemans Grattan Holdings, Furniture123, Game, Gameplay, 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, M and M Direct, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, Millets, Monster Travel, Musto, My Tuxedo, Naked Wines, NaturalCollection.com, New Look, Next, Peacocks, Perfect Handbags, PetPlanet.co.uk, Philip Kingsley, PIXmania, Prezzybox.com, QVC, R C Roland, Redfoot Revolution, Richer Sounds, Rubber Sole, Sainsbury’s, Scales Express, Shoe-Shop.com, Shop Direct Home Shopping, Schuh, Serenata Flowers, Shedstore, Slurp.co.uk, Sofa and Home, Sunshine.co.uk, Tesco.com, Tesco Electrical, The Fragrance Shop, The Health Supermarket, The Natural Store, TUI UK, Turton Wines, Vie at Home, Waitrose & Wilkinson Hardware.

[1] Calculation by 5.1 billion, divided by 61,838,154 (www.google.com/publicdata)
[2] http://www.ey.com/UK/en/Newsroom/News-re leases/Item—11-05-16—UK-high-street- faces-difficult-decade
[3] http://news.bbc.co.uk/weather/hi/uk_revi ews/newsid_9475000/9475206.stm