Marginal growth in UK online sales

Peak Season

Early reports from Ireland and the US suggest those markets saw healthy growth in online sales volumes during the pre-Chirstmas peak period while, in contrast, the UK had only marginal growth in November.

In December IMRG reported that UK delivery volumes grew just 1.5% in November, the slowest growth by some margin in many years. Online sales grew by 8.1%. According to IMRG, “November fell below the three- (+8.3%), six- (+10.5%) and 12-month (+12.2%) sales growth averages, as the market experienced its lowest ever growth for a Black Friday week.” IMRG put the figures down to economic uncertainty with Brexit looming large.

No UK carriers have announced their peak period volumes to date.

Across retail as a whole, growth in December by comparison to previous years sat at around 0%. Major retailers like Argos, Debenhams and John Lewis all reported a tough trading environment, with some suggestion that heavy discounting around Black Friday continued throughout the peak season, impacting revenues.

A small but interesting fact centred on the dates of Cyber Weekend: According to IMRG, “a change of timing in Black Friday, bringing it ahead of the end of month pay day” put the discounting weekend before people had money in their pockets to buy goods.

Outside the UK, Ireland’s An Post saw delivery volumes soar by 27%. In December we reported, “Some of An Post’s clients saw their e-commerce sales grow by as much as 70%.” This is a sign of what might happen in an economy where economic uncertainty isn’t at the forefront of consumers’ minds.

In the US, UPS and FedEx also saw record breaking numbers, with Stockmarket magazine Barron’s reporting, “Both logistics giants are having a “solid peak shipping season,” writes Cowen & Co.’s Helane Becker. She notes that FedEx’s high-level execution continues, while UPS’ peak results are improving.” It should be noted that neither these two companies or DHL have released their volume figures to date.

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