Record January Internet sales – up by 39%

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS)  have just published the monthly retail sales figures for January (pdf).

The overall figures surprised most commentators by their strength and were well ahead of estimates.  Health warnings concerning their monthly volatility abound. On balance it is good economic news!

January’s Internet figures are astounding and well ahead of our estimate of £555 million. They reached £640.4 million per week.

The ONS say:

  • “Internet sales -In January 2012 the non-seasonally adjusted average weekly sales value of Internet retail sales was estimated at £640.4 million (a week) which was approximately 11.9 per cent of all retail sales (excluding automotive fuel). In January 2011 non-seasonally adjusted average weekly sales value of Internet retail sales was £462.1 million which was approximately 8.9 per cent of retail sales (excluding automotive fuel).”

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That’s a 39% increase on January last year. The year on year figure for the 12 months ended January 2012 v’s 2011 is + 22%. The moving annual total, which we are now  reporting, moved up again (it has increased EVERY MONTH since January 2008) to an all time high of £27.72bn an increase in the month of 2.6% annualised 32% This is above the long term compound average growth rate of 28%.

Our forecast for February taking account of the possibly exceptional January figures is around £470 million a week with the 12 month moving average increasing to possibly £28,5bn.

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We have also added an experimental graph (e & o e!) showing the relative internet and non-internet, moving annual total, sales from 2008 by month. We are not retail experts/analysts but we sort of think this highlights (if reasonably accurate) an “elephant in the room” scenario or possibly “a dinosaur on the high street” one! Bricks and mortar sales are going nowhere whereas internet sales are growing at over 25% per annum. So the prerequisite for success on the high street is  exceptional retailing as practiced by eg Apple, Burberry, and no doubt some others, especially in these challenging times.

ONS words – “The experimental Internet Sales estimates include sales made over the internet by all retailers that is they include on-line sales from supermarkets, department stores, clothing stores and predominantly non-store retailers.”

Our words – the statistics understandably get revised each month and Decembers % Internet sales has been revised down to 10.2% from 10.9%. We revise our data in line with the ONS. Further details and explanations are either in the ONS release on the statistics or on their website. As previously mentioned a retail convention of a 4, 4, 5 week quarter is used by the ONS. To cater for the inconvenience of years not having 364 days every 6 years or so an extra week is included in the statistics. The ONS adds this in January and the last one was in 2008 which explains the exceptional figure of £1.2bn which would otherwise ave been £1bn!

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