UK e-commerce sales have continued their downward trend for the 17th consecutive month in August, experiencing a substantial 4.1% year-on-year drop. This disappointing decline reverses the positive progress seen in July. However, amid the gloomy data, one category managed to defy the trend and showed positive growth: clothing.

The latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales of 200 retailers, revealed that total sales for August were down 6.2% compared to July. This figure is significantly higher than the expected decline of 2% for this time of year. Year-to-date sales have plummeted by a staggering 14%, and it appears that the challenging financial landscape will continue to exert pressure on e-commerce businesses for the remainder of the year.

Despite August boasting some of the hottest days of the year, one would have anticipated a boost in certain sectors such as garden-related goods and food and drink for outdoor celebrations. However, disappointingly, the only category that experienced positive year-on-year growth was clothing, with a modest 2.8% increase. The garden category suffered a significant decline of 24.5%, while beers, wines, and spirits saw a considerable drop of 20.6%.

It is worth noting that in July, the success of the England women’s football team in the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 tournament had a beneficial impact on clothing sales, with a growth rate of 11.9%. The growth rate for womenswear was even higher at 20%. However, the momentum seemed to have slowed in August, as clothing sales only grew by 2.8%, with womenswear rising by 7.6%. This could be attributed to the influence of the football event on consumer behavior, or perhaps the overall cost-of-living crisis is making fashion shoppers more cautious.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director at IMRG, acknowledged the challenging summer for online retail and expressed concerns about performance during peak trading periods. Mulcahy expressed hope that the recent energy cap announcement would help boost shopper confidence ahead of the upcoming holiday season. However, he cautioned that the outlook is not optimistic, given the five weeks of decline in July and August, which is highly unusual. To yield positive results during Black Friday and the peak season, a significant amount of sales growth will be required.

Useful links:
1. IMRG: Official website of IMRG, providing valuable insights and information on the UK e-commerce industry.
2. Capgemini: Official website of Capgemini, a global leader in consulting, technology services, and digital transformation, offering extensive expertise in the e-commerce sector.