Household goods stores reported year-on-year (YOY) growth of 27.3% online in August, as consumers chose to spend time in the garden and doing DIY, whilst spending online reached a new record proportion of all retail sales.
According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), non-food stores’ sales growth online outstripped food stores last month, posting an increase of 17.3% compared with just 5.5% YOY.
Household goods saw the biggest increase and gave a good performance overall in August, as the warm weather boosted sales, with consumers spening time in their gardens and completing DIY. The month-on-month growth rate across the board, including online and bricks-and-mortar sales, saw non-food stores jump 2.8% and household goods stores up 4.5%, offsetting declines from food and clothing stores.
According to the ONS Retail Sales Index (RSI), spending online continued to increase to reach a new record proportion of all retailing at 18.2%; with strong growth in department stores also reaching a record proportion at 18.4%.
Commenting on today’s figures, ONS senior statistician Rhian Murphy said: “Retail sales remained strong in the three months to August, with continued growth across all sectors. Food and household goods stores particularly benefitted from the warm weather when compared with last summer.
“The figures for the month of August were a little more mixed, with food sales falling after strong sales earlier in the summer and clothing sales declining following a strong July, as suggested by clothing retailers. On the other hand, household goods grew strongly.”
Department store online sales soared 26.1% during the month. However, e-commerce large parcel expert ParcelCompare believes House of Fraser “missed the party” and had no online presence at a time when it needed to re-build its sales.
Head of consumer research David Jinks said: ‘The latest set of ONS results show online sales grabbed a record 18.2% of the UK’s overall retail market but House of Fraser really missed out on this online shopping spree. Following its buyout by Sports Direct, an ongoing row with its warehouse operator XPO over payments means the troubled store chain has had no online presence – while competitor stores grabbed its share of the market.”
“House of Fraser’s online site was never the best; we frequently criticised HoF for its antiquated web integration; ordering large furniture meant leaving the main site and linking to a white label site operated by “rival” furniture store A Share & Sons – best known for their ScS stores. Nonetheless, even a flawed online offering was better than none at all, which was the case for most of August.”
Mr Jinks concluded: “f HoF’s beleaguered rival Debenhams was able to poach House of Fraser’s online share it could help bolster its drained coffers; though it too has a very flawed site when it comes to web integration with another white label operator. There is much talk that Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley, who owns just under 30% of Debenhams shares as well, is looking to somehow consolidate the two companies. Maybe August’s online boom will be enough to keep the store out of Ashley’s questionable embrace.”
Interestingly, a supplementary report issued by ONS revealed that, despite the stronger online presence, consumers spent most of their money in stores and the majority of online spending was done within non-store retail. This suggests that pureplay online traders are growing faster than multi-channel retailers, which Andrew Westbrook, head of retail at audit, tax and consulting firm RSM believes, "might give the chancellor more reason to consider the introduction of a so-called Amazon tax. However, he will have to be mindful of the possible impact on physical retailers using online sales profits to offset store losses, or on those small retailers using online platforms."