James Hardiman, Junior Analyst, Retail Insight and Analytics, British Retail Consortium:
“Growth in online retail visits softening considerably from the recent trend, to a mere 4 per cent, highlights perfectly the consumers’ demand for immediacy over convenience as temperatures soared to record levels. Shoppers who were in need of cooling off would take a trip to the shops to find a fan or cold drinks rather than waiting for all but the shortest delivery timeframes.
“However, this only tells part of the story, as the summer sales were in full swing throughout July, the typically price sensitive digital retail consumer was not as receptive to discounts as many online retailers will have hoped for. That being said, according to our Retail Sales Monitor online sales saw growth of 7.5 per cent, which although being lower than the previous two months, is in line with the longer-term trend.
“The main winners in July were retailers of Fashion, Food & Drink and House & Garden goods, with demand for summery items remaining strong well into the sale period. It seems as though the weather will have to take a sudden turn before attention will be shifted towards autumn lines.”
Giles Longhurst, SVP and General Manager, Hitwise
“After an impressive June, which saw the largest online visit rise of 7.5 per cent year-to-date, July experienced the slowest rise of only 4.1 per cent. This deceleration is particularly concerning when compared to the 6-7 per cent growth rates seen in January to June.
“Retailers most likely expected more from July. Britons were celebrating the World Cup at the beginning half of the month. Heatwaves across the country also saw more people take to the outdoors.
“These conditions played well into the hands for some verticals. Clothing, Fitness and Footwear maintained a significant rise of 12.0 per cent YoY. This was largely driven by the popularity of new fast fashion brands, and spiking demand for summer fashion items like “sandals”, “bikinis” and “shorts”. Food and Drink also saw a healthy rise of 11.5 per cent YoY, with searches for summer drink favourites like “pimm’s” and “pink gin” growing by over 100 per cent YoY.
“In contrast, other verticals like House & Garden and Department Stores, experienced larger drops than this time last year. Contending with the heat, consumers swapped out big ticket items like beds and furniture for smaller quick fixes, including portable air conditioners and fans. Department Stores also battled against mid-summer sales, namely Prime Day, which clustered retail activity to only 36 hours mid-month.”