Latest figures for online retail sales turned out to be the lowest since records began, revealing growth of just 8% for May 2009. Online sales for May 2009 totalled over £3.7bn. Growth for May 2009 represented a 3.5% dip compared to April 2009 as people abandoned their computers to enjoy the Bank Holiday sunshine. But there is one positive impact - sales in the health and beauty sector shot up by 14.9% month on month. Online sales of beers, wines and spirits fell 17.4% during May, probably as a result of shoppers stocking up on supplies before April’s Budget.
Online alcohol sales were also down 6.5% year on year. Sales of electrical goods slipped 5.7% during April but that sector seems to be holding up well during the recession as year on year sales were up 27.9%. Mike Petevinos, head of consulting for retail for Capgemini UK, said: “Although online sales remain healthier than on the high street, UK shoppers are clearly changing their behaviour as a result of the recession – even those heading online to economise are now beginning to trim spending habits. So, whilst the underlying trend is still one of growth for online retail, the market conditions are placing all retailers under intense pressure to ensure their offerings remain competitive.”
The overall decline of 3.5% is the first monthly decline for May since the Index started, while year on year growth for May 2009 stood at 8.2% compared to 30.9% in 2008. Tina Spooner, director of information at IMRG said: “Consumers today are making very considered purchasing decisions, relying heavily on the internet to qualify their buying both online and in traditional stores, so online retailers will be the first to see ‘green shoots’ when the economy finally begins to stabilize.”