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Small Slide in Online Sales Reported Last Month

24 February 2020 - 09:24 by Simon Crisp

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January was a less than ideal trading period for retailers that offer safe shopping online, with figures from IMRG showing that there was actually a 0.4 per cent dip in sales activity in the e-commerce space.

The first month of 2020 followed on from a tough year in which growth had been muted and various economic and political pressures had limited consumer confidence across the board.

The post-Christmas period is usually a relatively slow one for retail, since the splurge of spending seen in the run-up to the festive break is met with widespread frugality at the start of the new year, but the downturn in online spending is seen as particularly worrying.

Experts revealed that some portions of the market fared far worse than others, with sales of consumer electronics falling by almost a fifth in January. Such drops were offset by stronger growth in other areas, such as the 7.1 per cent uptick in beauty product sales made online.

There was a 5.5 per cent increase in online sales last year, and while January’s figures seem to suggest that e-commerce activity is hitting a plateau, experts are somewhat uncertain as to the exact causes of the peaks and troughs in spending seen over the past quarter.

IMRG spokesperson Andy Mulcahy said that one of the reasons that November and December of 2019 were unexpectedly strong for online sales in spite of the struggle that retailers had endured throughout the rest of the year is that discounting practices were widespread. This encouraged consumers to spend cash that they might otherwise have held on to, with the spectre of Brexit still looming large in the weeks before Christmas and the January deadline likely having an effect on spending once the festivities were over.