Online purchases in the UK were up by more than 20% year-on-year in January 2018, marking the strongest January growth for online orders since 2013.
According to the latest data from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index, the percentage of parcels arriving on-time also recovered to 90% in January 2018, following the record low of 85% recorded in December 2017.
However, this was still down on January last year, when 93% of orders were delivered on time. The report attributes the longer-term fall in performance to a general increase in the proportion of orders requiring faster, typically next-day, delivery services.
During the same period, high-street footfall fell to its lowest January rate in five years, further helping online sales.
The relative weakness of sterling also continued to exert an influence over the destination of online retail orders. While it has recovered against the US dollar in recent months, sterling remains weak against the euro. As a consequence, the volume of orders going to destinations within the EU hit 70% – the highest percentage since the index launched in 2011.
Andrew Starkey, head of e-Logistics, IMRG, the UK’s industry association for online retail, said, “Online sales revenue growth was also strong in January, up 13.9%, so it was a strong start to the year for online retail overall in spite of the ongoing economic uncertainty.
It was a very wet month for most of the UK, which can deter people from visiting their local high street, but it’s possible that post-peak returns may have had some influence on volume too.
Given the record volume of Christmas orders – and the extended returns period that many retailers offer – it is likely that the volume of returns would also be high. Many of these would have found their way back into online channels for resale as part of the new year sales.”
Maria Dahlquist Canton, global marketing director for MetaPack, a provider of delivery management technology, said, “It’s good news for e-commerce retailers and demonstrates that the market remains buoyant following the year-on-year rise in retail delivery order volumes during December.
“There is a definite correlation between the slow-down in footfall on the high street and the rise in online orders, and it will be interesting to see if the trend continues in the February figures.”