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18 - 19 September 2024
ExCeL London

18 - 19 September 2024
ExCeL London

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04 Feb 2024

January 2024 eCommerce Deep-Dive with Andy Mulcahy from IMRG

January 2024 eCommerce Deep-Dive with Andy Mulcahy from IMRG

A pretty good Christmas for retailers, but… 

For many retailers selling in the UK market, the past few years have been notable for a clear dip in customer demand; the economic downturn has been reflected in lower customer conversion, longer time-to-purchase and a greater dependency on discounting to generate sales.

Looking at the numbers every week it has at times felt pretty bleak – and the mood in the approach to peak trading was often characterised as a bit apprehensive to say the least.

While it remains the case that some of those metrics that have been under pressure – primarily conversion – have not in general recovered to their pre-cost-of-living crisis levels, there is considerable nuance to a market that is in decline overall.

For example, consider this figure: for 2023 as a whole, revenue for the online retail market declined by -3%. Sounds quite bad obviously, but that is actually exactly in line with the forecast we put out at the start of the year. So, as bad as things sometimes seem, this means the market performed in line with expectation.

Dig below that figure and it becomes apparent that all things are not equal. Health & beauty is actually doing really well, finishing 2023 up +10.4%, largely driven by the budget retailers but really many of the large ones are doing well too. Contrast that with clothing, which finished 2023 down -5.9% against a forecast of 0%; a combination of difficult weather patterns and low demand caused havoc there.

Both November and December were slightly down, but in the context of general market conditions that feels like a pretty good result.

Then comes the but. In the third week of December, the market grew by over +10%, by some distance the strongest growth of the year…BUT…the three weeks following all saw big declines, with the final week of December seeing the lowest growth rate of the year.

It is proving very difficult for the market to get going and maintain it; here’s to a 2024 where we hope we can find some more consistency.

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