All Time Records for November Internet Retail Sales

Today  The Office for National Statistics (ONS)  published the monthly retail sales figures for November (pdf) Full details  are available on the ONS site.

Overall figures showed an increase of 0.3% in the month (from October) which by & large was in line with expectations confirming some small growth.   the ONS continue with their preferred three monthly which again was flat. The weather got an honourable mention with the cold boosting clothes sales. So far no one seems to have picked up on the all time highs for internet sales and the ONS didn’t even include it in their headlines!

Our Internet sales headlines:

  • Internet sales up at 11.9% of all retailsales was their HIGHEST EVER level (previous all time high was 10.9% in December 2012).
  • Year to date they are at 10.2% of all retail sales..
  • Online food sales at 3.6% of all food sales were at their highest (equal) EVER level.
  • For every £1 spent in the online retail sector 49 pence was spent on non-store retailing 38 pence in non food stores and 13 pence in food stores! This compares with ALL Retail excluding online of  7p for non-store 46p in non food stores and 47p on food!
  • All internet sales excluding food were 18.4% (16.5% revised) and have now broken out above their previous range of 15%-17% by some margin.
  • The decline in the rates of growth of the major online only retailers noted in previous months starting with the Olympics last year have now virtually normalised to the average of over 20% as 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)
  • We do think the ONS needs to do more analysis of internet sales as already nearly half 49% this month are effectively categorised as sales by online retailers virtually irrespective of the underlying goods or services!  

November and year to date stats for internet sales:

  • Months sales 11.9% (10.5% revised) of all retail sales
  • Year to date sales 10.2 % (10.0% revised1) of all retail sales
  • Monthly year on year increase of +15.1%.(+16.2% revised1)
  • Moving Annual total increases (1) on October 2013 annualised +15.7% (2) on November 2012 +15.6%
  • The UK’s *largest online retailer is included in the group Non-store retailing and this sector shows growth of 15.4% on 2012 and accounts for nearly 50% of all online retail sales. This is an area which SHOULD just grow & grow unless further analysis is undertaken of this channel!

As always the “history” has been revised1 by the ONS which this month went back as far as November 2012  with overall small increases in and all Retail Sales.

The ONS words this month are:

Internet Sales in Detail

Internet sales are estimates of 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.

Key Points

• Average weekly spending online (Internet sales values non-seasonally adjusted) in November 2013 was £809.9 million. This was an increase of 15.1% compared with November 2012.

• The amount spent online accounted for a record 11.9% of all retail spending excluding  automotive fuel.

• The online spend at department stores was estimated at a record 11.4% reflecting feedback from retailers that suggested that investment in their Internet sites has boosted sales but at the same time detracted from sales in store.

Table 4 shows the year-on-year growth rates for total Internet sales by sector and the proportion of sales made on line for each sector

 Table 4: Summary of Internet Statistics for November 2013

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 weekly Internet sales figures by sector and the proportion they represent of all online sales. (We have corrected a misstatement of these %’s in last months table) link

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.

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 £32.8 billion an increase in the month (adjusted re restatements and revisions) of 1.31% annualised 15.7%. The average this year is 13.5%. The long term compound average growth rate (from 2007) is 23.0%.

The published weekly figures at £809 million was a little behind our aggressive estimate (£835) and we also were £0.2bn short of our £33 billion moving annual total target. December is the biggest month of the year so we so we will again large size it and look for a jump to a £951+ million target so we can round it to a billion  alongside a moving annual total of over £33.3 billion.

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) http://i.co.uk/?p=4721 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 (March June September and December are 5 week months). 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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