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Online sales increase in May

18 June 2018 - 09:27 by Graham Miller

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Last month saw yet another rise in safe shopping online, with figures from the Office for National Statistics suggesting that certain segments of the retail market are making more of e-commerce platforms than others.

Fashion outlets, for example, have seen a major shift towards online sales over the past year. A total of 17.6 per cent of clothing is now purchased via the web, compared with 14.7 per cent back in March of 2017.

Online grocery sales remain comparatively small, accounting for 5.8 per cent of the entire food shopping market. However, this represents an annual increase of over a fifth, showing that there is an increased appetite for safe shopping online as an alternative to supermarket visits.

Department stores enjoyed an even bigger swing towards e-commerce, with a 36 per cent year on year boost to web sales experienced in May. 

Online shopping as a whole was up by an impressive 19.9 per cent compared with the same period in 2017, while the amount of cash that consumers splashed across the retail sector as a whole was 6.3 per cent higher.

As with earlier analysis, the ONS researchers concluded that a mixture of sunny weather and the impetus to shop provided by the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle were both responsible for boosting consumer confidence and increasing spending.

This was coupled with the fact that the UK had suffered a particularly inclement spring, with freezing temperatures, snow, rain and other climatic factors all dampening the demand for shopping experiences earlier in 2018. Once the warmer temperatures started to appear, people were much more willing to treat themselves, whether via safe shopping online or on the high street.

Whether this trend will continue remains uncertain, but with the World Cup taking place throughout June and into July, there should be enough motivation to keep consumers spending.