Worst September since 2003 for electricals online

Online sales as a whole were up by 14 per cent in September. However, the same was not true for electricals.

According to the latest statistics from the IMRG Capgemini E-Retail Sales Monitor, the electricals sector took its first year-on-year pasting in September since 2003, as sales fell by 5.6 per cent.

This was also the sixth consecutive month that the electricals sector suffered negative growth online. The analyst points to inflation as a probably underlying cause, as well as the fact that high-ticket purchases often suffer when consumers are tightening their belts.

Things were not helped, said IMRG, with several electrical manufacturers having signalled that they had raise prices.

Another factor, IMRG suggested, was that many consumers may be holding off their big-ticket purchases until Black Friday.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design, Capgemini, commented: “While 14 per cent seems high, it hides the impact of inflation. When you look at how much faster online is growing than multichannel it implies that people are currently more price sensitive, comparing deals rather than buying directly through retail. Couple this with September’s cross-sector spending habits, and it indicates a strong focus on essential purchases, with gifts slowing significantly and electricals continuing to decline. It could in fact be argued that electricals now serve as an indicator of consumer confidence, especially when you pit the sector’s performance against the previous year’s across the past six months.”

Speaking for IMRG, managing director Justin Opie said: “There are several notable differences between the online sales performance of online-only and multichannel retailers. While the online-only retailers are enjoying far higher conversion and sales growth currently, the average spend on multichannel retail sites is much higher. It’s possible that the online-only retailers are benefiting from the lingering perception that the best deals are available online, so as pressure on their available spend increases, shoppers look to the ‘pure’ online brands over the high street alternatives. Conversion on multichannel retail sites may also be supressed by use of store locators and a higher potential for abandoning a basket online, where they were carrying out research, only to complete the purchase in a conveniently-located store.”