James Hardiman, Junior Analyst, Retail Insight and Analytics, British Retail Consortium:
“Growth in retail website visits took a severe slowdown in October, with only 0.3% year on year, down from September’s 5.4%. There were a number of factors that contributed to dampening growth, including the recent GDPR legislation restricting marketing activity and reported changes made to search engine algorithms which has raised a need for many retailers to refocus on search engine optimisation.
“Despite these headwinds facing retailers with an online presence in October, there were some categories which bucked this trend and still managed to record growth in website visits, although at a more subdued level. House and Garden retailers will be pleased with their return to the top of the growth rankings table, with consumer attention now firmly focussed on indoor activities following the end of British Summer Time.
“After the calm, more often than not comes the storm; and with the possibility of a release of consumer demand imminent over the crucial discounting period ahead, it is more important than ever that retailers wring out every drop from marketing opportunities.”
Giles Longhurst, SVP and General Manager, Hitwise
“Online retail activity saw only a minimal 0.2% YoY rise in October.
“Top-performing categories still accelerated, albeit at a slower pace. Seasonal events like Halloween helped boost Clothing, Fitness & Footwear (+5.3% online visits YoY), Food & Drink (+6.3%) and House & Garden (+7.3%).
“Other key verticals, such as Department Stores (-1.2% online visits YoY), Rewards and Directories (-2.4% YoY) and Consumer Electronics (-2.9%) dipped year-on-year, likely causing concern for the all-important final quarter of the year.
“October has seen greater anticipation for November sales. Searches for “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” were 3% higher over the month than last year, along with key products like “PS4”, “iPad” and “Google Home”.
“Hints of the “retail creep” (the trend of retailers starting their promotions earlier and earlier in the fourth quarter) are already visible, with some top retailers launching exclusive deals to loyalty members and offering deep discounts at the start of November.
“These results show that November has become an even more important month on the retail calendar. Retailers and brands need to closely track online activity on a daily (even intra-day) basis – from what consumers are searching for, what sites are they visiting, to how are the competition responding.”