November's fashion and beauty e-sales soar as discounts drive shopping frenzy
After plenty of reports about the strength of Black Friday, it's no surprise that online retail sales surged in November with the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index showing a 16.4% uplift year-on-year, the highest growth since April 2018 and more than double the growth achieved in November last year.
That latter figure managed to beat the three-month, six-month, and 12-month rolling averages (+10.7%, +7.7%, +6.1% respectively) and marked a far higher month-on-month increase from October (+54%) than usual — the uplift usually averages around 40%. However, with many sales driven by discounts, this could come back to bite retailers with profits potentially being dented.
So who actually benefited from the sales surge? Well, the index showed that online-only retailers saw the biggest sales increases, and clothing overall saw its highest sales increase (+19.3%) since November 2016, while health & beauty reported particularly strong growth of 43.9%.
It was interesting that online-only retailers seemed to attract most interest in the month that included Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with growth of 24.7% versus only 9.2% for multichannel retailers suggesting that online-only sellers' discounts were deeper.
That said, the Average Basket Value (ABV) dipped by 11% and m-commerce had a less stellar month than might have been expected. Although smartphone growth was good (+24.4%), the largest ever drop for tablets (-34.8%) brought the overall m-commerce loss to 8.5%.
Lucy Gibbs, Senior Consultant at Capgemini, said: “The jump in November sales this year was well beyond expectations after an otherwise difficult year. Could this be what retailers, or rather, consumers were waiting for? The highest growth this year has been seen in the discounting periods, a sign that when wider consumer confidence is low, then the predictable sale events in the retail calendar are counted on for stretching wallet spend.
“Online-only retailers were the biggest winners where higher conversion and larger decreases in ABV suggest deeper discounting strategies than the multichannel players. Will having so much increased activity provide the boost needed or add to the challenge of maintaining profit margins this year?”
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