Online sales of Non-Food products in the UK grew 12.0% in November versus a year earlier. In November 2013, online sales rose by 16.0% over the previous year. In November online sales represented 21.0% of total Non-Food sales of the monitor, against 19.6% in November 2013. This is the highest penetration rate recorded since our monitor started in December 2012.
Online sales contributed 1.7 percentage points to the growth of Non-Food total sales in November. The three-month average contribution of online to Non-Food growth exceeded that of stores for the third consecutive month, achieving another all-time record proportion outside of December.
Helen Dickinson, director general at the British Retail Consortium, says: “This month brings fantastic news for retailers who have worked hard on their online presence, as the online penetration rate of non-food sales is at an all-time record. Every £1 in £5 of non-food purchases is spent online. Online sales are also contributing a larger proportion of growth to non-food sales compared to in-store.
“Black Friday was the retail event of the month and retailers offered consumers impressive discounts both online and in-store. The high volume traffic to websites meant that consumers also bought a large amount of full priced items and not just those on sale. Online sales growth was good for the month but there may have been a distortion caused by Black Friday with consumers delaying purchases until the end of the month in the hope of grabbing some bargains.”
David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG, says: “Online orders reached record breaking penetration levels this November, as shoppers snapped up a bargain in the Black Friday sales.
“However, retailers’ online systems have been tested and some have been found wanting. The sheer weight of consumer demand caused some websites to buckle under the pressure and these retailers need to sort this capacity issue out and quickly or face losing sales to competitors with more robust systems.
“Online sales will help to drive growth for retailers this Christmas and are a crucial element of their overall strategy.”
In the largest month of the year for online shopping, there were some significant records achieved. First, the proportion of Non-Food products bought online achieved an all-time high of 21%. Retailers commented that Click & Collect is fast becoming the favourite shopping option, with a lot of customers collecting on the same day on their way from work.
However, Non-Food online growth was lower in November than in October, at 12%, slightly below the 12-month average of 14.5%. Considering that this growth comes from a large base and against a significant increase of 16.0% in November 2013, it remains impressive. The shape of the growth throughout the month was also interesting, as growth almost came to a standstill before the cyber-week in anticipation of the deals. There were widespread discounts for Black Friday, with particularly aggressive deals among fashion retailers, who used the opportunity to lower their stocks after the unseasonably warm Autumn quarter.
Again, purchases made online contributed more than those made in-store to the growth of Non-Food sales in the three months to November.
Furniture had another successful month online in November, making it the third largest contributor to growth. It was the only category which didn’t achieve an all-time record penetration rate, as it already is one of the highest on that measure – it achieved 32.5%, just one percentage point short of February.