April Internet Sales at 10% including and 16% excluding food sales

The Office for National Statistics (ONS)  published the monthly retail sales figures for April yesterday (pdf) As usual we’ve cut it down to exclude the 86 pages of tables. The full version is on the ONS site.

The overall figures of a 1.3% decline were greeted with surprise as a small increase had been expected. The weather, yet again came in for extreme criticism!. Online sales were reckoned to have benefited due to the weather again.

Our Internet sales headlines:

  • Internet sales continue at the 10% level of all sales for the year to date
  • All internet sales excluding food dropped back a little this month to 16% and have now been within a range of 16% -16.9% for the last six months.
  • The decline in the rates of growth of  the major online only retailers noted in previous months looks to be reversing .After a 4 month lull we might just be returning to the average of over 20% recorded since the statistics were first compiled. These figures include the online sales of all the majors ie  Apple, Google, eBay, Amazon (including LoveFilm), Asos, Netflix and Shop Direct (Isme Very, Littlewoods etc)
  • Online food sales at 3.4% of all food sales continue at close to record levels. On a year to date basis they stand at 3.5%

April and year to date stats:

  • Year to date internet sales 10.0% (10.2% revised*) of all retail sales
  • Monthly year on year increase +13.2%.(+18.4% revised*)
  • Moving Annual total increases (1) on March 2013 annualised + 10.7% (2) on April 2012 +14.3%
  • The UK’s *largest online retailer is included in the group Non-store retailing and this sector shows growth of 21.2% on 2012 and contributing 12.7% to the overall growth of 13.2% This is an area which SHOULD just grow & grow) unless further analysis is undertaken of this channel!

As always the “history” has been revised* by the ONS which this month went back as far as April 2012 with some quite large changes Internet sales last month going down to 10.2% of all sales as against the previously reported 10.4%.

The ONS words are:

Internet Sales – Key Points

  • In April 2013, the overall proportion of non-seasonally adjusted online sales remained high at 10.0% reflecting feedback from large retailers, which suggested that during the continued cold weather consumers purchased from their online sites rather than in store.
  • Average weekly spending online (internet sales values non-seasonally adjusted) in April 2013 was £571.7 million. This was an increase of 13.2% compared with April 2012.
  • The amount spent online accounted for 10.0% of all retail spending excluding automotive fuel.
  • As expected, more was spent online in the non-store retailing sector than any other sector. Spending online now accounts for 66.6% of total spending in this sector. In the food sector 3.4% of spending was online. This sector has the lowest proportion of online spending in relation to all spending.

Internet sales in detail

Internet sales measure how much was spent online through retailers across all store types in Great Britain. Figures are non-seasonally adjusted and the reference year is 2010=100. Table 2 shows the year-on-year growth rates for total internet sales, by sector and the contribution that each sector makes to total internet sales. to all spending.

Table 2: Summary of Internet Sales Contribution for April 2013






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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.

We have also added the sector information provided for weekly Internet Sales.

Sector summary

The non-store retailing sector comprises of stalls and markets, mail order and those retailers that sell mainly online.

* 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.

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 £30.2bn an increase in the month (adjusted re restatements and revisions) of 0.89% annualised 10.7%. This continues (just) to reverse the downward trend of four of the previous six months when single digit growth has been recorded. The long term compound average growth rate (from 2007) is a little over 24%.

Click to enlarge

The published weekly figures at £571.7 million was below our estimate (£600) by a long way and but we met our £30 billion moving annual total target. In spite of a slightly warmer May to date we think sales may well pick up a little with the double bank holiday activities so we are looking for  weekly sales of  £600 million + and a moving annual total of £30.5 billion ish.

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 (December is a 5 week month). 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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