Digital Retail Insight

Jul 19: Digital Retail Insight

Retail Browsing Falls as Temperature Rises

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

“The summer months have certainly not been kind for online retailers when it comes to growth in traffic, with a disappointing decline of 2.6% in July bringing the 3-month average to an unenviable decline of 2.7%.

“There were some rays of sunshine through the clouds in July, when looking into specific category performances. House and Garden related websites reaped the benefit of improved weather conditions and bucked the declining trend – particularly in the final week of the month – as consumers were drawn outdoors and so encouraged to spruce up their gardens.

“In terms of time spent and pages viewed per retail visit, Department Stores were the clear winners in July, with the largest increases in both metrics for the month. This shows their value to consumers when researching a variety of goods prior to finalising purchasing decisions.

“Overall, this result is hardly good news, but follows suit with the low growth in online sales we have seen over the same period. This supports the view that there are wider economic forces at play, providing a substantial challenge for online retailers to overcome in order to drive traffic to their websites.”


Giles Longhurst, SVP and General Manager, Hitwise

“Online visits to the retail industry have declined by -2.6% year-on-year in July, which was a slight improvement from the -2.9% drop in June. This is a far cry from the double digit growth this time last year, but there is a silver lining when we dig deeper.

“Conversion rates continue to grow. The average across 30 top retailers reached 3.0% (visit-to-purchase rate), compared to 2.9% last year. Although small in percentage terms, this increase equated to an additional 9 million transactions across the 30 top retailer sites. The largest contributor of this yearly rise was Prime Day which fell on 15-16 July this year. Hitwise data also showed that this mid-year sale produced a halo effect, with a number of other retailers seeing a spike in transactions over the same week.

“Additionally, sub industries benefiting from growing consumer trends have also risen. Online visits to experience days and experience gift sites increased by +5.7% year-on-year. Visits to the top 50 fast fashion sites declined by -8.1% in June-July, but the top 50 premium fashion sites grew +3.1%. These shifts show that consumers aren’t necessarily spending less on clothing and accessories. Instead, where and how they spend their time and money is changing, as sustainable retail and experiences become more mainstream.

“Macro headlines can be a cause for concern, but businesses need to look deeper at specific audiences and sub industries. July’s performance shows that there are many businesses that are still growing exceptionally online, particularly ones that are adapting to rising trends and interests.” 


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