UK shoppers spent £5.1bn online during January, as fears of a fall-off in sales later in the month proved unfounded with travel firms alone seeing a 31 per cent year on year boost.
The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveal that overall shoppers spent 21 per cent more than the same time last year – and in total the equivalent of £83 per person.
Earlier this month BDO warned that although the first two weeks of January had seen a 50 per cent rise on last year, this was mostly due to post-Christmas sales and the rush to avoid the rise in VAT. During the second half of the month, it predicted demand would ebb away as stores reduced promotions.
But in fact shoppers continued to spend more online, especially booking holidays, which as well as being 31 per cent up on last year, rose 173 per cent compared with December 2010.
Even so, IMRG director of information Tina Spooner still sounded a note of caution: “While the Index results for January show a very encouraging start to the year for e-retailers, it is important to note this strong growth is on the back of the lowest-ever annual growth recorded in January last year when the e-retail market grew just 4.6 per cent.
“Multichannel retailers performed well last month with sales growing by almost a third compared with January last year, but the pureplays and catalogue retailers saw annual growth dip to 8 per cent, following a year of steady growth in 2010.”
Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini added: “January was a very interesting month. As expected we saw a strong growth in the Index following a very weak start last year, but the jump in the travel sector and the gap between multi-channel and pure plays has come as quite a surprise.”
Net sales up but tough times loom