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UK e-commerce market disappoints with low 6.7% growth in 2019

UK e-commerce grew by a low 6.7% last year. This represents an all-time low in terms of growth rate. The discouraging growth rate is especially significant when you compare it to the 11.8% growth rate in 2018.

It wasn’t the best year for the e-commerce in the United Kingdom. This is mostly due to a difficult start, as online retail sales grew only 5.4% in H1 of the year, compared to the same period in 2018. In H2, e-commerce sales recovered slightly to grow 7.6% year-on-year.

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November showed a great performance with online sales increasing by 16.4% year-on-year. December also achieved good numbers, with a growth rate of 9.4%. This is shown in the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.

IMRG says that the good Q4 wasn’t enough to save the UK e-commerce market from the lowest annual performance seen on record. “A series of disappointing results during the first three quarters of the year contributed to a discouraging growth rate of just 6.7%”, notes the report.

E-commerce-growth-rates-by-country“If online retail in 2018 was characterised by strong growth in the first half and weak in the second, 2019 is the year when Black Friday quite possibly papered over retail’s cracks. Demand was low earlier in the year, particularly over summer, and growth for the year was running at just +4.9% up to October,” explains Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG.

“A solid December, albeit against weak Year-on-Year growth in 2018, off the back of an explosive November have made the full-year result look much better at +6.7%; lower than our forecast of +9%, but nowhere near as bad as it was looking a few months’ back.

“So, where does that leave retail heading into 2020? The final quarter has been a lot more positive for online sales growth than it has looked for a long time, plus we’ve had the election and Brexit should actually, finally, become something. There are also major sporting events galore in 2020 which could stimulate retail spending. Have we turned a corner then, or is it the case that the fundamental problems affecting retail are still yet to be solved in any meaningful way? Time will tell.”

The company forecasts an online sales growth of 7.8% in 2020.


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