Today’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) retail sales figures for March paint a mixed picture. It’s likely that shortages of some foods, particularly fruit and veg, drove down retail sales volumes by -0.9%. The amount we all spent in stores decreased by the same amount.
However, there was better news for e-commerce-based retailers, says the home delivery expert ParcelHero. ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks explains: “Despite the fall in overall retail sales, the amount we all spent online actually climbed by 0.8% in March over February’s results. Against March last year, online sales values also increased, by a healthy 3.6%. This meant online grabbed 25.8% of all retail sales in March, roughly the same market share it has held since May 2022, and contradicting some recent reports that online sales are in decline post-Covid.”
Online fashion boost
Online sales of clothing and household goods saw the biggest jump. E-commerce fashion sales increased in value by 4.6% and household goods by an impressive 5.4% over February.
The impact of inflation is very apparent in the latest ONS retail figures. The amount we spent (both in-store and online) climbed by 4.5% year-on-year. However, the amount of goods we actually purchased fell by -3.1%. In other words, we all spent more money but bought fewer items. That’s inflation in action.
The import of some fruit and vegetables was significantly down, because of poor growing weather earlier in the year. This contributed to the overall sales slump. Additionally, the ONS says that feedback from retailers revealed that weather conditions here in the UK throughout most of March also affected sales.
A slightly drier April could help restore retail sales. Indeed, there was some good news for High Street stores in these latest figures. Sales volumes overall rose by 0.6% in the first quarter of 2023 when compared with the previous three months, the first quarterly rise since August 2021.
As retail settles to a new equilibrium, it will be those retailers with strong in-store and online sales that will ultimately triumph in a post-Covid world.
ParcelHero’s report “2030: Death of the High Street” reveals that, unless retailers develop an omnichannel approach, embracing both online and physical store sales, the High Street as we know it will reach a dead-end by 2030. Read the full report at:https://www.parcelhero.com/