Digital Retail Insight

May 19: Digital Retail Insight

Fewer Reasons to Shop Sees Retail Browsing Fall

James Hardiman, Analyst, Retail Insight and Analytics, British Retail Consortium:

“Retail browsing levels came back down to earth with a bump in May, recording a year on year decline of 2.4%. However, this was in no small part due to the stellar growth seen at the same point last year, which provided a very challenging comparable month to outperform.

“Despite this overall decline, a few categories managed to see some growth, with Food & Drink, health & Beauty and Books, Stationary & Home Entertainment all bucking the trend. The strongest downturn, on the other hand, was felt in categories that cater for enjoying the outdoors, with garden furniture and summer fashions a casualty of the stark contrast in weather between this year and last.

“Without marquee events such as a Royal wedding, better than average weather or a World Cup to entice consumers into spending, retailers must work harder than ever to drive sales through the integration of shopping channels.”


Giles Longhurst, SVP and General Manager, Hitwise

“After an uptake in April, online retail visits have once again dipped by -2.4% YoY in May. This time last year, Britons were celebrating an early summer, the Royal Wedding and the World Cup, contributing to online rises in Food & Drink, Clothing, and House & Garden categories. This year, a number of these categories have slowed or even declined in online traffic, despite two bank holidays and improving weather conditions compared to previous months.

“But there continues to be an uptake in conversions. The average of 40 top retailers had slightly risen from 2.37% (visit-to-purchase rate) to 2.52%, indicating that once consumers have reached retail sites, there is a higher propensity for them to purchase online.

“On a positive note, some declining industries have reversed their trend this month. Books, Stationary & Home Entertainment in particular grew by +2.8% YoY, compared to the -3.4% decline from the same period last year. Two key books (or book sets) helped drive this reversal. Searches for “Game of Thrones books” (after the final season) and “Pinch of Nom” (the newly released 100 slimming recipes in time for summer) have spiked +586% YoY and +195% YoY, respectively.

“Overall, May’s performance hasn’t been the most positive leading into summer, but declines weren’t across the board. Conversions are still rising, and some industries have reversed their fortunes with viral trends and new releases. Through category and search level data, there are opportunities to find growth over quieter months, as well as understanding the specific interests of online audiences.”


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