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Consumers express uncertainty via online shopping

23 November 2017 - 11:58 by Graham Miller

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New stats published by IMRG suggest that Brits were a little more cautious about splashing out online last month, with e-commerce growth hitting 12.6 per cent and thus failing to match average increases seen over the past half-decade.

Internet Retailing reports that with high street outlets struggling, analysts had expected to see a significant shift to the web as consumers hunted for convenient shopping experiences. However, the impending arrival of Black Friday is being blamed for the disparity between site visitor numbers and sales activity, with people choosing to browse products for research purposes rather than commit to a purchase.

Studyspokesperson, Justin Opie, explained that this consumer hesitance was also reflected in falling conversion rates, shoring up the argument that people have been waiting until November to shop online ahead of Christmas in earnest.

Although sales growth was not as strong as in previous years, the average amount spent per transaction was up, hitting £94. It is suggested that this is due to aggressive discounting by retailers aimed at shifting more products and encouraging customers to add extra items to their baskets.

Home electronics had been a segment that suffered a sales slowdown earlier this year, but in October it returned to growth with a four per cent uptick in purchases recorded. Opie said that this was especially unexpected given that Black Friday is typically frontloaded with discounts on all sorts of gadgets.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday should give November’s e-commerce sales figures a strong boost, but it remains to be seen how much consumer confidence has been hit by ongoing political and economic instability in the UK. The picture should become clearer next week when the dust has settled on these two major sales events.