Digital Retail Insight

Sep 19: Digital Retail Insight

Autumn Brings Steep Browsing Decline

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

“The dramatic decline of 7.9% in September highlights perfectly the plight that retailers are facing in the current climate. This was by far the steepest decline of the year so far and has dragged the three-month average down to an unenviable decline of 5.3%.

“While the mild weather was not encouraging consumers to shop for the newly released ranges of autumn and winter wear, fashion was not the only area to feel the pinch. Indeed, each category saw significant declines in terms of visits to retailer’s websites in September, which does not bode well for the key fourth quarter ahead.

“The picture doesn’t get any rosier when delving into alternate metrics of website performance, as both average time spent and pages viewed per retail visit fell from the levels seen in August. Also, with Online retail sales slowing to their lowest rate since our record began, seeking solace in the fact that at least there was online sales growth is a stretch too far.

“Consumers are clearly reluctant to spend on anything other than the necessities, and while the clouds of impending political and economic turmoil darken, the likelihood that attitudes will change any time soon is slim.”


Giles Longhurst, SVP and General Manager, Hitwise

“September was the first month this year we’ve seen a dip in total transactions on the top 25 retailers. Compared to last year, these sites processed 1.9 million fewer purchases and received 146 million fewer visits (in relative terms this is a drop of -7% YoY).

“After seeing conversion rates and transactions grow over the summer months, September’s macro results have taken a negative turn. The biggest drops in online visits were found in Consumer Electronics (-14.8%), Clothing, Fitness & Footwear (-9.0% YoY) and Food & Drink (-7.6% YoY) categories.

“Particularly for these categories, October will become even more critical. In the past few years, Black Friday sales have crept earlier towards the start of November. As a result, October has seen increased activity around search and comparison in preparation for peak sales. With lacklustre September results, retailers and brands need to use this next month effectively to draw the attention and interest of shoppers.”


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