March 2018 wasn’t a strong period for High Street retail and even online firms haven’t had a bumper season either. The March retail figures represented the worst sales numbers since 2010. And online retail also took a hit for the first time in a year.
Online sales in the UK declined by 1.2% in March 2018 compared with a 0.3% rise in February. And High Street shop transactions fell by 3% versus a 2.4% in February. High street shops saw the biggest wobble with footfall decreasing by 8.6%. And also shopping centres and retail parks outside of town additionally experienced reductions of 4.8% and 1.8% respectively, according to Springboard.
The severe weather put paid to any glimmer of hope for an uplift in shopper activity in March. A proportion of this was made up over Easter, with footfall in shopping centres and retail parks rising from last Easter. But this was more than offset by the impact of the heavy rain on high streets.
– Diane Wehrle, Springboard director
Primarily, the report says that the key reason for this downturn in sales and footfall was the weather. And there is no doubt that the past winter has been one of the more miserable and inclement the UK has experienced for several years.
But that doesn’t entirely elucidate the online figures: bad weather should give ecommerce a boost. Other aspects underpinning these numbers obviously include general economic uncertainty, Brexit, and also continuing wage stagnation. Prices have been going up but salaries haven’t kept pace and many people (especially those working in the public sector) have seen a real terms pay cut since 2010. Basically, that means that consumers have less in the way of disposable income to open online to offline.
What’s your experience of the first quarter this year when it comes to online shopping? Have you had decent sales or are they sluggish? Differences will be discernible by sector and will also reflect where you sell online. But how well have you done?