Online retail sales registered their lowest-ever growth in the first half of 2019, up just 5.4% year on year, compared with a 16.9% rise in the first six months of 2018.
The latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index blames the slow-down on a combination of low consumer confidence, decline in non-essential spending, Brexit uncertainty and heavy discounting. Clothing was one of just three categories to record a positive online sales increase in the first half – up 7.3% year on year.
The sector also performed “substantially better” in the second quarter compared with the first. Sales were up 11.2% year on year in the three months to 30 June. The index puts this down to the hot weather and early summer sales.
Online clothing sales increased by 15.7% year on year in June – the highest growth in 2019 so far.
Health and beauty, and home and garden also fared well in the first half, but online sales of lingerie fell by 8.9% year on year.
Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant at Capgemini, warned: “If this year continues to mirror performance of last year, we can hope for a stronger second half. However, with Brexit happening before peak period and still uncertainty around what it will bring, we cannot know whether the index will recover.
“Caution and volatility within the market remain for the foreseeable.”