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

“August saw the steepest decline of the year so far, with 4.8% for the month, which drags the three-month average over the height of summer down to a decline of 3.2%. This poor result is also particularly stark, given that the summer sales remained in full swing and attention-grabbing discount rates were abundant.

“Even when looking through the list of categories, the only respite from declining traffic came to House & Garden websites but seeing a flat rate over last year is damning with faint praise. It was also a particularly bad month for Consumer Electronics retailers, who saw the category slip to the bottom of the growth rankings table, below perennially disappointing Classifieds.

“The fact that this slump in retail traffic has coincided with a significant slowdown in online sales growth is telling. The reluctance from consumers to open their wallets may be catching up with online retailers, and with planning well underway for the all-important final quarter success will only come to those who are able to break through the traffic deadlock.”

 

Giles Longhurst, SVP and General Manager, Hitwise

“August saw a larger decline in total retail visits of -4.8% YoY compared to previous months. However, a trend we’ve seen throughout the year is the continued rise in conversion rates.

“Zooming into the top 25 retail sites for the month, online visits dropped -3% YoY, equating to a loss of 52 million visits. Transactions on these sites rose +8% YoY, which was a difference of over 4 million transactions. This increase came from a mixture of top grocers, clothing and multi-category retailers boosted by Back To School specials and warmer weather conditions in August. Perfect BBQ and outdoor weather saw terms like “Limoncello”, “Aperol Spritz”, “Mermaid Gin” and “Beyond Meat Burgers” rising compared to last year. The latest electronics and gadgets were also trending, including terms like “Airpods”, “Occulus Rift” and “Samsung S10”. School staples like school uniforms, shoes and bags were among the top searches for parents. 

“This data shows that the loss in overall online activity can’t be ignored and it is driven by top retail sites. But when consumers are online, they’re seeking the latest consumer products, stocking up on staples and increasingly transacting online. Retailers need to capture the consumer’s attention by staying close to rising trends and product seasonality. They need to align these trends with product promotions and marketing campaigns, in order to make the customer’s online journey even more seamless.”