Net sales up but tough times loom

Online sales were up by nearly 50 per cent in January compared to last year, although retailers have been warned it was only a temporary surge and they will need to embrace new platforms to weather tough economic conditions.
Latest statistics from BDO, which publishes a monthly sales tracker, show fashion sales rose by 10 per cent in January, while non-fashion increased by 6.8 per cent. Meanwhile, homeware sales were up 10.5 per cent, with shoppers taking advantage of offers which held back the VAT increase.
Internet sales now account for £1 in every £5 spent with UK retailers.
Don Williams, national head of retail and wholesale at BDO, said the year had enjoyed a “healthy start” as a result of promotions in relation to the VAT rise and the New Year bank holiday being a shopping day.
But the company warned that during the second half of the month demand had ebbed away as stores reduced promotions. “It appears that after spending heavily in the New Year sales, many shoppers currently have a low appetite for discretionary purchases. We can’t see this situation changing in the immediate short term given weakening consumer confidence.”
“Now the New Year buzz has worn off, retailers will be preparing for a tough first quarter. With momentum starting to build behind new platforms such as mobile commerce, getting non-store offers right will be even more crucial this year,” he added.
It was recently revealed that online marketplace eBay saw sales via mobile apps triple to almost $2bn last year. And vice-president of retail strategy at ForeSee Results Kevin Ertell stated: “Any retailer not actively working to develop, measure and refine its mobile experience is leaving money on the table for competitors.”

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