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Late Easter Leaves March Sales Growth Muted

25 April 2019 - 14:41 by David Aiken

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Figures from IMRG show that last month the number of sales made in the UK via safe shopping online was up by just five per cent compared with the same month last year.

Analysts blame the fact that Easter arrived later in the year for this modest rise in e-commerce activity, which is far below the double-digit uptick in web-based sales that has been experienced on average over the past 12 months.

Easter falling in the latter half of April meant that consumers were especially unlikely to buy home and garden products, with analysts revealing that this segment was up by only 1.6 per cent. Clothing also suffered, with a 3.7 per cent growth rate reported.

The real losers were gadgets and gifts, with the sales of electronics in particular taking a steep drop of 26 per cent. This suggests that shoppers are being cautious with their cash and holding back on making big purchases of high-tech products at a time when the UK’s political and economic future still hangs in the balance.

The areas which helped to offset these shrinkages were health and beauty, with sales rising by almost a fifth. Experts put this down to an increase in demand driven by a number of significant product line launches which occurred in March, proving the power that celebrity endorsements can wield in this particular area.

Expectations for strong sales growth in April are high, with the fine weather over the Easter bank holiday weekend likely to have spurred more people to spend money both online and on the high street.

Bricks-and-mortar sales are still looking less than ideal, yet this is not just down to online sales growth. Changing consumer habits and general caution are proving problematic for the entire retail market.