Online shows significant growth in ONS retail figures

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its first retail figures since the EU referendum.

In July 2016, the quantity bought (volume) of retail sales is estimated to have increased by 5.9% compared with July 2015; all sectors showed growth with the main contribution coming from non-food stores.

Compared with June 2016, the quantity bought increased by 1.4%; all sectors showed growth with the main contribution again coming from non-food stores.

Average store prices (including petrol stations) fell by 2.0% in July 2016 compared with July 2015. Compared with June 2016, there was a fall of 0.8%.

online shoppingThe amount spent (value) in the retail industry increased by 3.6% compared with July 2015 and 1.6% compared with June 2016.

The most significant move can be seen in online sales, with the ONS figures showing that the amount spent online increased by 16.7% compared with July 2015 and increased by 1.2% compared with June 2016.

All store types showed increases in the quantity bought compared with July 2015 and June 2016, marking the 39th consecutive period of year-on-year growth, the ONS says.

Non-seasonally adjusted data show that the prices of goods sold in the retail industry (as measured by the implied price deflator) decreased by 2.0% compared with July 2015; this was the 25th consecutive month of year-on-year price falls.

Falls in average store prices were also seen across all store types compared with July 2015, with the largest fall in petrol stations (4.1%); however, the fall of 2.0% in all retailing is the smallest fall the ONS has charted in the last 18 months.

Responding to the latest figures, Salmon head of marketing and communications Patrick Munden commented: “We have seen a significant rise in online sales in July with the average weekly spend increasing by 16.7% to £963.8 million, compared with the figure in July 2015 which was £827.1 million. The ONS statistics also highlighted a month on month increase in online sales with July boasting a 1.2% increase on June, reinforcing the rise of online and mobile shopping across the year and not just the usual peak trading periods. In fact, Amazon’s Prime Day, which was the biggest day ever for Amazon with 60% more sales than 2015, may have been a contributor to this growth across the whole of online retail and has firmly planted the seed for online shopping during what would otherwise have been a quiet holiday month.”

He continued: “Last year’s Black Friday was when we saw a real shift in consumer attitudes, and online shopping is becoming increasingly favoured among consumers as the go to trustworthy platform. If retailers are to keep abreast of this wave they need to react to the market and digitise their whole business strategy – mobile, tablet and other devices. Retailers that are online, but maintain a high-street presence, need to ensure they provide consumers with a successfully integrated multichannel offering. They need to provide immediate services like click and collect, have fully operating online sites, and everything must draw back to a robust digital strategy. Otherwise, retailers risk losing consumers, brand trust and market share to more digitally savvy competitors.”

Fujitsu UK & Ireland managing director of retail and hospitality Rupal Karia added: “These latest figures from ONS show that even in times of uncertainty, consumers are still willing to shop. What is interesting about the figures is that the amount spent online in July has in fact increased by 16.7%, compared with July last year. This highlights how consumers are becoming ever more comfortable with using digital channels to shop.

“The growth in the popularity of online shopping shouldn’t be viewed as a threat to the high street; it should be seen as an opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers to reinvent themselves and embrace digital. As consumers now have a multitude of options at their disposal from online and social to mobile and in-store, they are becoming increasingly intolerant of retailers who won’t provide them with the means to shop in the way they wish. It is essential therefore to have seamlessly integrated channels that flow from the shop floor, to the back end systems through to the online store. This will enable customers to move freely from one to the other during their shopping experience and shop the way they wish in this new digital age.”

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