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Online sales growth hit by postal strikes

Online sales growth in October was impeded by the postal strikes, leading to a £53m fall in growth during the last week of the month.

British shoppers spent £4.2bn online in October, an 11.8% rise year-on-year and an 8.4% increase on September, according to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

However, growth fell by 2% and a further 5% in the space of one week at the end of the month due to the series of postal strikes in October.

The strikes impacted online clothing sales as shoppers’ concerns over delivery meant that they reverted to the high street for Christmas occasionwear. Online clothing, footwear and accessories sales rose 7% month-on-month and 13.2% year-on-year, falling short of the average 27% recorded for October in previous years.

However, online sales of gifts rose 113% from September and 40% year-on-year as shoppers bought presents earlier and gift etailers started Christmas early.

IMRG and Capgemini said that Christmas will come early for etailers.

Capgemini UK head of consulting for retail Mike Petevinos said: “E-retailers must ensure they heed the October warning signs and act to reassure consumers that orders will be delivered in time for Christmas.  With consumer confidence restored e-retailers, can get on with the real challenge of convincing consumers to spend online and resist the temptation to wait even longer for last minute discounting on the high street.  Ironically, careful tactical online promotions may be the route many adopt.”

Tina Spooner, director of information at IMRG said: “Whilst the overall Index returned to double-digit growth in October, the decline in e-retail sales values and volumes during the second half of the month shows that consumer confidence was affected by the Royal Mail strikes. However, with the threat of further strike action now averted in the run up to Christmas, shoppers’ concerns around delivery will no doubt be dissipated.

It remains to be seen whether consumers will play a waiting game over the coming weeks as they look for the best bargains online in the hope that retailers will begin discounting as Christmas approaches.”

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