BRC-KPMG: ‘online shopping still the main source of sales growth for UK retailers’

Growth in online shopping accelerated last month, with non-food sales up 10.2% compared with a year earlier, according to BRC (British Retail Consortium)-KPMG.

Its online retail sales monitor, covered the five weeks from August 28 to October 1, says that in September, online sales represented 21.1% of total non-food sales in the UK, against 19.8% in September 2015. This is the tenth consecutive month that the non-food online penetration rate has remained above 20%.

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson commented: “Interestingly, for the first time online was a popular shopping destination for ‘back to school’ purchases – testament to retailers successfully ramping up their digital services and making it an integral part of the customer offer.

“Online shopping is still the main source of sales growth for UK retailers, but popular services like click & collect and showrooming are significant drivers of online sales, meaning physical stores still have a crucial role to play.

“Shoppers are more and more using a combination of the internet and high-street stores for the whole shopping journey; from browsing to the purchase itself. The result is that shops are increasingly becoming a destination to experience products rather than just to buy them.”

Paul Martin, newly appointed head of retail at KPMG, added: “Children’s toys performed strongest in terms of growth, no doubt spurred on by notable promotions from some of the major retailers in this sector. Likewise, health and beauty, furniture and home accessories all experienced a ringing at e-checkouts, as consumers looked to bag a bargain in the end of season sales.

“Compared to a dreary performance on the high-street, women’s fashion performed well online. However, footwear didn’t stand up to the success observed in-store; notably the only category which saw a decline online last month. Nevertheless, all eyes will be fixed on maintaining online sales momentum between now and Black Friday – the next major e-tail moment in the 2016 calendar.”

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