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


“October saw a 6% year on year growth in browsing activity, the highest seen since June. With Department Stores and Clothing, Fitness & Footwear visits making up the lion’s share of these visits once more.


“Food & Drink visits returned to the top of the growth charts this month, consumers are becoming ever more comfortable shopping online for these products, although coming from one of the categories with low proportion of visits overall there is still a long way to go for these online retailers to catch up.


“With Black Friday on the horizon, consumers are starting to prepare their shopping lists ahead of time, with the staple of its appeal, Consumer Electricals returning to positive growth. With competition for Black Friday sales stronger than ever this year, success for retailers will likely be determined by those that glean the most insight from what consumers are searching for and tailor their offers accordingly.”


Giles Longhurst, SVP and General Manager, Hitwise


“The big question on retailers’ minds is whether or not October’s sales slump reflects a worrying downturn. Or, whether this has meant higher anticipation for the upcoming Cyber Week and Christmas period.


“Based on Hitwise data, it looks to be both. Online visits to the retail industry was 6% higher in October YoY. Top-performing industries, such as: Food & Drink (+18%), House & Garden (+17%) and Health & Beauty (+15%), have bolstered this. In contrast, Books, Stationary & Home Entertainment have seen a 2% decline.


“In October, searches for Black Friday were 40% higher compared to the previous year. The number of people searching for Black Friday was 60% greater. The profile of this audience has also shifted towards an older demographic. 


“Although online sales activity have stalled, there are some positive early signs. It’s more important than ever for retailers to refine their Cyber Week and peak promotion strategy. Retailers need to ensure that all campaigns – search, content, social and display – are well-aligned to reach and convert their target audience.”