James Hardiman, Junior Analyst, Retail Insight and Analytics, British Retail Consortium:
“With the summer sun not arriving in August, contrary to consumers and retailers’ expectations, consumer behaviour began to shift towards the autumn ahead. This is not all doom and gloom, however, as average weekly retail visits have not dropped back to the pre summer lows. Also, the year on year 5 per cent growth points to consumers’ increasing appeal for online shopping.
“Both House & Garden and Food & Drink continue to show impressive growth year on year, which highlights the ever increasing confidence of consumers in the online offerings from retailers in these categories.
“Department Stores’ grip on the online retail landscape continued to tighten as they now account for 42 per cent of retail visits compared to 38 per cent in July. This emphasises the gains that are there to be made by improving customer experience for online shoppers as much as these retailers have done in recent times.”
Giles Longhurst, SVP and General Manager, Hitwise
Online retail visits have grown by 5% in August YoY. Continuing the trend over the past year, key verticals that have propelled this rise include: Food & Drink (+14%), House & Garden (+14%) and Clothing, Fitness and Footwear (+6%).
The Back To School rush also saw a small pick-up of 3% for Consumer Electronics, contrasting to the YoY declines exhibited over the first half of the year. Department Stores, which accounts for a sizeable chunk of the total retail industry (42%), rose healthily by 5%, as parents flocked to multi-category retailers for their school clothing, accessories and stationery needs.
In preparation for the new term, people in the market for laptops and tablets furthermore grew by 7% in August MoM. In particular, the number of students searching for these devices rose by 22%, when comparing the start to the end of the month.
As we approach the critical fourth quarter, retailers need to closely monitor their high-prospect audiences. Insight into the target audience’s needs (through search behaviour) and where they go online (through visit behaviour), are needed to support end of year content and targeting strategies.