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Sales Growth Falters as Consumers Spend Conservatively

24 January 2019 - 09:49 by Graham Miller

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Figures from IMRG have shown that December was a muted month for the retail industry in the UK, with a 3.6 per cent uptick in the number of purchases made via safe shopping online.

Internet Retailing reports that this falls well below the monthly average enjoyed throughout the course of 2018, which sat at just under 12 per cent.

Even with Christmas on the horizon, shoppers cut their outlay on gifts last month by a whopping 31.1 per cent, while similarly steep falls were seen in other categories, such as the 21.7 per cent dip in spending on electrical goods.

2018 is now a tale of two halves when it comes to online sales growth, with the first six months of the year seeing a 16 per cent uptick thanks largely to the positivity spread by the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The second half of the year was far rockier, with December’s poor performance dragging down the total growth seen to just 8.4 per cent.

Of course, there were some winners even within the relatively gloomy overall results. M-commerce sales leapt upwards by 28 per cent compared with 2017, showing the power that smartphones now wield over the industry.

Study spokesperson Andy Mulcahy said that even with the rocky market conditions seen earlier in 2018, retailers saw solid double-digit growth due to one-off events as well as the good weather conditions, helping to stimulate consumer spending.

He also pointed out that while December was a tough month, the first quarter of 2019 would be more of a challenge for the retail sector. The spectre of Brexit looms large at the moment, and it is more than likely that all of the current uncertainty will prompt even more caution amongst consumers.