The floods that devastated the UK in February had a negative effect on high street retail, but they proved beneficial to the performance of online retailers as consumers opted to shop from the comfort of their sofas to avoid the dire weather conditions.
The latest British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor revealed a 14.3% year-on-year increase in e-commerce sales of non-food items last month, contributing 2.1 percentage points to the growth in total non-food retail sales for the period. As a whole, online transactions accounted for 17.5% of sales in the sector, up from 15.4% in February 2013.
The increase brought the average growth level for the last three months to 17.8%, which exceeded the 12-month average of 12.7%, Helen Dickinson, director general of the BRC, commented. Considering February is a traditionally quiet month for retail sales, as it falls mid-season, this growth is particularly impressive, she added.
The positive trend for e-commerce once again highlights the importance of omni-channel strategies for retailers, as many categories have been suffering a decline in sales. According to Dickinson, omni-channel retailing is “going from strength to strength” as shoppers are increasingly using their smart devices to research and purchase a variety of products. It is therefore highly important for retailers to invest in providing consistently good customer experience across all channels.
E-commerce held a critical role in the retail industry in February as the country suffered one of the wettest winters in history, head of retail at KPMG David McCorquodale said. Without online sales, trade in the non-food category would have slipped into negative territory, he added.