Anoush Darabi, Junior Analyst, Retail Insight and Analytics, British Retail Consortium:

“May was the month browsers turned towards Summer online, with Food & Drink and House & Garden growth driving an overall increase in visits of 4 per cent. However, despite this healthy growth in page visits, online Non-Food sales growth in May fell to 4.3 per cent in May, as recorded by the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor, the lowest growth rate since records began in December 2012.

“The link between browsing activity and sales clearly isn’t straightforward. While the prominence of Food & Drink in browsing activity helps explain for some of the loss in online sales, the vast majority of Food sales still taking place in-store, this disparity shows the complexity of online shopping behaviour. Sales can begin months in advance, with shoppers using retailers’ websites to write their retail wish-lists and compare prices.

“The average number of page views increased in May to 12.3, up from 11.1 last month. With shop price deflation slowing, the BRC-Nielsen Shop Price Index recording deflation of 0.4 per cent in May, the shallowest rate since November 2013, browsers are picking closely through websites for the best deals. Channelling shoppers towards the products they want as quickly as possible should be at the forefront of retailers’ minds.”

 

Christian Marsden, General Manager, Hitwise: 

“Online visits to Shopping & Classifieds have increased by a steady 4 per cent in May year-on-year. Continuing the trend in 2017, this overall rise was propelled by key performing verticals, such as: Food & Drink (+17 per cent), House & Garden (+13 per cent) and Health & Beauty (+10 per cent).

“These verticals have undergone a substantial shift in its online audience over the past year. Food & Drink and Health & Beauty, traditionally seen as more female-dominated, have had substantial increases in its male audiences, at 21 per cent and 29 per cent respectively in May YoY. House & Garden has also attracted online interest from older segments, including a 44 per cent rise in people aged 45-54.

“The success of these retail verticals comes down to several key factors - migration of services online by existing players, new niche players introducing innovative products and services and which have in turn attracted new audiences online.

"With a slowing retail economy, an in-depth understanding of audiences will be critical. Retailers need to track shifts in their audience make up, and ensure product, service and communication are tailored accordingly to meet customer expectation.”