Online sales of gardening products have grown by almost 25% over the past year, says a new retail report.
The Capgemini IMRG eRetail Sales Index for the first half of 2018 showed that shoppers have been spending more on average online than ever before, with gardening the strongest growth category.
Online retail experienced 16.8% growth – the highest year-on-year rise for eight years – defying extreme weather (from Beast of the East to the heatwave) and national events like the Royal Wedding and World Cup. Interestingly, online sales on smartphones were up 39%, an indication of the change in shopping habits. Average basket value was £94, the highest half-year figure since 2014.
Gardeming appeared to particularly benefit from the unpredictable weather, enjoying year-on-year growth of 24.9% overall, its strongest first half since 2014, with a 33.7% growth in the warm months of April to June. The category was ahead of clothing (+17.1%), health & beauty ( +17.7%) (YoY).
Despite the impressive growth of online retail, the report says, conversion rates for online retailers actually decreased overall every month other than May. This could be accredited to the continued trend of online shopping via smartphone devices, which are accounting for a larger share of total online sales but feature lower (albeit increasing) conversion rates.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG said: “The performance for online sales in the first half of the year has been a lot stronger than anticipated. There are a number of factors that may be influencing that – the extreme weather events (both hot and cold), the Royal Wedding, World Cup etc – and it might be possible that the feel good elements associated with some of those events has encouraged people to spend a bit beyond their means.
“This could mean that we see a pinch on shopper spend as we move through Q3 – though the weather in July has been incredibly hot – which may lead to an imbalance in online retail growth between the first and second halves of the year.”
Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement at Capgemini, added: “The year started with a lot of doom and gloom and uncertainty around retail. What has been encouraging is how well online retail has performed, particularly in seasonal categories like clothing and Garden. These two sectors have delivered higher basket values (+38.0% and + 19.6% respectively), with consumers becoming impulsive in their purchases as they refreshed summer wardrobes and prepared for more time spent outside.
“Despite that, online-only retailers outperformed multichannel retailers during most of the half year, with average growth at +18.6% and +14.7% respectively, multichannel actually closed the gap on last year’s YOY growth. Basket value growth was also stronger for multichannel retailers, with a +4% (YoY) increase in average basket value to £100.77, compared to only +2% (YoY) for online only retailers at £87.77. It demonstrates the continued importance of an omnichannel presence for retailers – a focus on connected retail will help ensure that the ecommerce sales performance outlasts the good weather.”