Internet Retail Sales soar by over 20% in May

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It’s the third Thursday of the month so at 9.30 today The Office for National Statistics (ONS)  published the monthly retail sales figures for May (pdf) We’ve cut the pdf  down to exclude the 100 ish pages of tables. If you want these the full version is on the ONS site.

Overall the figures are a little ahead of “the median forecast of 20 economists”  (we’re sure there’s a joke there somewhere!) The weather is still being blamed for April which seems to have been revised even further downwards.

Our Internet sales headlines are:

May increases:

  • Year on year +21.6%.(+20.7%) the greatest increase this year
  • Year to date May 2012/2011 +17.6% (16.6%) another move upwards making 4 so far this year
  • Moving Annual total increases (1) on April 2012 annualised +16.6% (2) on May 2011 +17.0%
  • The UK’s *largest online retailer is included in the group (Non store retailing) showing 23% growth on 2011 and contributing 9.5% to the overall growth of 21.6% (This is an area which is likely to just grow & grow unless further meaningful analysis is undertaken by the ONS)

As always the “history” has been revised by the ONS which this month went back as far as August 2011 with (to us at least) some fairly large increases in their estimates eg we reckon April’s headline weekly Internet sales figure increased to  £499.8 million from the original £489 million.

The ONS words are:

Internet Sales

Key points

  •  Internet average weekly sales values (non-seasonally adjusted) in May 2012 were estimated to be £510.9 million, an increase of 21.6 per cent when compared with May 2011.
  • Internet sales are now estimated to account for 8.8 per cent of all retail sales values excluding automotive fuel.

Internet sales in detail

The Internet sales statistics measure how much has been spent online through retailers in Great Britain. Figures are non-seasonally adjusted and the reference year is 2010=100. The table below shows the year-on-year growth for total Internet sales, for each sector and the contribution that eachsector makes to total Internet sales.

Category Weight Year on year Contribution
(YOY) growth to YOY growth
All retailing 100.0 21.6%
(a) All food 17.3 34.1% 5.9%
(b) All non-food 41.4 15.1% 6.3%
Department stores 7.0 18.4% 1.2%
Textile clothing & footwear stores 11.7 21.9% 2.4%
Household goods stores 8.2 34.7% 2.7%
Other stores 14.5 -0.6% 0.0%
(c) Non store retailing 41.3 23.0% 9.5%

We have added our annotations to the ONS table) – The bold categories/ figures in the table are the primary constituents of the total (ie (a) + (b) + (c) = All retailing). Dept. stores, Textile etc, Household etc and Other stores are simply an analysis of (b) All non-food.

* Whilst the ONS will not confirm the names of specific retailers within categories they did say that retailers selling wholly online with no physical outlets would be included in the Non store retailing category along with eg online  mail order retailers.

We are disappointed that the ONS have not provided greater analysis and commentary on their internet statistics after all they are the only “sector” showing dramatic growth and on a specific point in their table the All food category has increased to 34% in the moth wheras Marh and April were stated to be 14.3% and 15.3% respectively!

As previously mentioned the figures are no longer experimental.

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The moving annual total, which we report, moved up again (it has increased EVERY MONTH since October 2007 being the first full year of reporting by the ONS) to an all time high of £26.7bn an increase in the month (adjusted re restatements and revisions) of 1.38% annualised 16.6%. This is below the long term compound average growth rate (from 2007) of 25.9%.



Our previous forecast for April at £500 million weekly sales with the ONS restatements now looks as if it was spot on and we therefore underestimated this month by £10 million. For June with Diamond Jubilee contributions we’re aggressively going for £525 million with a MAT reaching £27+ million ish!

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We have again included our experimental graph (e & o e!) showing the relative internet and non-internet, moving annual total, sales from late 2007 by month. As before it highlights that high street sales have been and continue to go nowhere! As, we have mentioned before, the Boston Consulting Group forecast  in their report (The $4.2 Trillion opportunity)  that this trend is likely to continue with the high streets market share contracting at around 2.75% a year from 2010 through 2016.

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

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