Online order growth highest in five years

Delivery volumes for online orders saw the strongest growth in January since 2013, according to new data.

The IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index showed that online retail delivery order volumes increased by 20.6 per cent year on year in January.

During the same period, footfall fell to its lowest January rate in five years, which IMRG said could have possibly been impacted by the above-average rainfall, benefiting online.

The percentage of parcels arriving on time recovered to 90 per cent in January, following a record low of 85 per cent in December 2017. However, this was still lower than January 2017, which recorded a rate of 93 per cent.

IMRG claimed the most likely reason for the fall in longer-term fall in performance is the general increase in the proportion of orders using faster, next-day delivery services.

The weakened pound against the euro also had an impact on the destination of online retail orders, according to the data, with the volume of orders going to the European Union reaching 70 per cent, the highest percentage since the index launched in 2011.

IMRG head of e-Logistics Andrew Starkey said: “Online sales revenue growth was also strong in January – up 13.9 per cent, so it was a strong start to the year for online retail overall, in spite of the ongoing economic uncertainty. It was a very wet month for most of the UK, which can deter people from visiting their local high street, but it’s possible that post-peak returns may have had some influence on volume, too. Given the record volume of Christmas orders – and the extended returns period that many retailers offer – it is likely that the volume of returns would also be high. Many of these would have found their way back into online channels for resale as part of the New Year sales.”

At MetaPack – a provider of e-commerce technology to retailers – global marketing director Maria Dahlqvist Canton commented: “It’s good news for e-commerce retailers and demonstrates that the market remains buoyant following the year-on-year rise in retail delivery order volumes during December. There is a definite correlation between the slow-down in footfall on the high street and the rise in online orders, and it will be interesting to see if the trend continues in the February figures.”