Online sales of non-food products in the UK grew 15.4% in October versus a year earlier, according to the latest BRC-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor – almost in line with the 12-month average growth of 14.8%. In October 2013, online sales rose by 12.1% over the previous year.
In October, growth in the Furniture category accelerated over September. However, as stores also experienced very healthy growth, the proportion of furniture sales online increased by only 0.3% points.
According to the monitor, online furniture retailers are offering customers increasingly sophisticated ways to visualise pieces of furniture online from all angles.
This October, online sales represented 18.2% of total non-food sales in the monitor, against 16.5% in October 2013 – the highest penetration rate since Christmas 2013.
Helen Dickinson, director general, BRC, comments: “Online sales took their largest slice of the pie of non-food sales growth since December 2013. October’s growth compared to last year was 3.3 percentage points faster, which bodes well for Christmas, especially as the proportion of online non-food sales was also the highest recorded since last Christmas.
“October saw many actions to encourage the sale of winter stock. Concurrent flash sales were run in-store and online. Loyal customers were offered exclusive discounts and due to this Clothing and Footwear did better online than in stores. As we march steadily on to the festive season online retail sales are set to increase, for example online Christmas shops are proving popular. ‘Mega Monday’, the first Monday in December, is one to watch as it is generally thought to be the biggest day for online shopping. However, retailers’ investment in ever-faster deliveries means that Mega Monday could be shifted closer to Christmas this year.”
David McCorquodale, head of retail, KPMG, adds: “Retailers proved themselves fleet of foot online, launching highly targeted offers to offset the unseasonal weather and give consumers that extra impetus to spend.
“It’s evidence that retailers can use their online operations to quickly react to unexpected factors, such as a heatwave at Halloween, and adapt their sales strategy to offer shoppers the products that are relevant to them. This flexibility isn’t a guaranteed failsafe, but it certainly gives retailers more options than their store portfolio can offer.
“With Black Friday and Christmas ahead, the online channel’s importance will be felt more than ever in the coming weeks.”