UK online retail sales were up 13.9% year-on-year (YoY) in January, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

With rainfall above average in January, and the month posting the lowest high street footfall in five years, the latest online sales report reveals consumers turned to online shopping this January.

IMRG managing director, Justin Opie, comments: “14% growth for January represents a strong start to the year, arguably even surprisingly so. The economic climate remains challenging, with inflation remaining at 3% and an interest rate rise anticipated over the next few months. The impact on retail was very apparent in January, with several very large retailers announcing store closures and job cuts – high street footfall also fell to a five-year low for January. Yet online appeared to benefit from that, with the index recording the lowest month-on-month decrease (-20.5 %) between December and January in five years.


“It may be that, as we enter 2018, we are seeing signs of an acceleration of the general move over to online, putting pressure on those retailers with large store portfolios to sharpen their focus on rolling out their digital strategy.”

With January sales still an important market stimulus, the electricals sector performed well relative to recent trends, growing +4.4% YoY. Its performance sits starkly against last year’s 12 month average (Jan17 – Dec17) of -3.0% YoY and January 2017’s YoY growth figure of -8.5%. Similarly, sales growth for the clothing sector was up +16.8% year-on-year, its strongest January growth since 2013. Footwear, Menswear and Womenswear growth were broadly in line with the five year average, with year-on-year growth of +13.3%, +10.4% and +6.9% respectively.

The strong start to the year was secured in spite of a dip in the overall market conversion rate to +4.3% from +4.5% last year, continuing the decreasing trend as customers browse more before purchasing. Sales via smartphones are also increasing at a lower rate than last year, at +39.3% YoY in January, while growth through tablets suffered a decrease in YoY growth of -10.0%.