Online shoppers hold out for price cuts

| Press release
IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index - Confidence in Christmas deliveries and hopes for early promotions signal strong growth in December

The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveals that British shoppers spent £5.3 billion online in November. Sales were up by a quarter (25%) compared to October, and by 11% compared to 2008.  November saw typical seasonal growth in online sales, with retailers starting to experience the pre-Christmas surge from the first week in November.

Christmas shopping trends

Despite sales increasing ahead of the festive season, year-on-year growth has slowed in 2009, in line with the maturing of the online retail industry over the last couple of years. This is also attributed to shoppers holding out for bargains, rather than reducing their online spend entirely.

The past two years have seen retailers putting in place seasonal price cuts and promotions in December rather than January, meaning that many consumers have chosen to delay their Christmas shopping this year.

Christmas falling on a Friday in 2009 may indicate that shoppers are allowing shorter delivery windows than usual, a sign of increasing confidence in retailers’ ability to deliver on time. Typically the first week in December is the ‘peak’ week for Christmas shopping online and there is some evidence that this may well be the case again in 2009. Indeed, Carl Clump CEO of Retail Decisions (ReD), card fraud prevention and payment processing experts says:

“We’re witnessing a 17% rise in online retail sales through December, which shows how important the internet has become as part of our daily lives. We are also seeing online shoppers spending their Christmas money with the larger retailers, because they have confidence in the longevity of reputable brands.”

Mike Petevinos, Head of Consulting for Retail at Capgemini UK, said:

“November’s results show a solid growth for online retail in the run up to Christmas. Given retailers perceptions that consumers are holding out for November bargains, this would suggest a strong December for online. The challenge will be to ensure that value is at the forefront of the Christmas message, with carefully designed promotions becoming the norm across the sector. Inspiring confidence in late delivery windows could also become a differentiator for those that have got it right.”

Sector splits

The accessories and gifts sectors showed the strongest growth in November. Sales of gifts more than doubled (105% increase) compared to October, and rose by 56% compared to last year. Sales of accessories online rose by 114% month-on-month and 68% year-on-year, perhaps as shoppers with less money to spend on Christmas parties compared to previous years, spruced up existing outfits with new accessories.

Year-on-year growth in the clothing, footwear and accessories sector rose 14%, although this is approximately half the rate of November 2008, indicating that this sector is reaching maturity.

Tina Spooner, Director of Information at IMRG said:

“It is encouraging to see continued growth in the e-retail market which is clearly an indication of consumers’ confidence in the online channel. We would expect this positive growth in online festive sales to continue during December as retailers seize the opportunity of targeting their customers with promotions and offers in the final shopping days in the run up to Christmas.

With many online retailers offering last order dates for pre-Christmas delivery as late as 23rd December, with a few promising same day delivery on Christmas Eve, even last minute festive shoppers can avoid the high street crowds this year.”



% Change Month on Month

% Change Year on Year

Total Market



Clothing, Footwear and Accessories



- Accessories



- Footwear






Beers, Wines and Spirits






Health and Beauty







Jonathon Brown, Head of Online Selling, John Lewis Direct commented:

“November was a very strong month for with year on year out-performance seen across all key categories of Home, Electrical and Home Technology and Fashion. Overall the site was over 50% up year on year, with some stunning performances especially in Fashion (over 90% up on the year before), which is a testament to the focus we have given to this area over the past few months.”


Notes to Editors

Further quotes from retailers:

Cameron McLean, PayPal’s General Manager for UK merchant services, said: 

“As you would expect we saw a big uplift in online transactions in the first week of December as people started their Christmas shopping. We expect the rest of December to be just as busy with people logging on to buy more presents and bag themselves a bargain in the December sales.

“Whilst online retail sales have been strong in 2009, PayPal forecast earlier this year that they were set to grow by up to 137 per cent between the end of 2008 and the end of 2011. Recent research from PayPal revealed that tracking down a good deal is a top priority and one of the main reasons why people shop online. The increase in prices caused by VAT returning to 17.5 per cent in January may well make shoppers even keener to go online to find a bargain.   As the economy recovers, e-commerce will play a lead role in taking the UK retail sector out of recession.”

Shop Direct Group Chief Executive, Mark Newton-Jones, commented:

“We saw double digit online sales growth year on year in November and early December as our customers clearly started planning ahead for Christmas.  In our peak weeks we have seen over 7m visitors to our websites.

“Last year’s peak was concentrated into two weeks.  This year we have seen four equally large trade weeks; the last two weeks of November and the first two weeks of December.  The busiest days have been Mondays with the busiest hours being 12.00 – 2.00 pm and 8.00 – 9.00 pm, once the kids have gone to bed.

“As the peak has extended and we see more customers growing in confidence to shop closer to Christmas, we have pushed back our last order date to 8.00 pm on 23 December to capture those last minute presents.”

Zak Edwards, Managing Director of online gift retailer, said:

“Sales for in November were phenomenal, marking a growth of 107% on November 2008. This certainly bucked the trend of the credit crunch. This success is attributed to an aggressive marketing campaign throughout the year, culminating in the distribution of over £5m worth of Gift Vouchers with a telecoms partner.”

Christian Robinson, Managing Director of Firebox, comments: 

“Firebox has seen a tremendous level of demand during November, with retail sales up 33% on 2008 figures.  The launch of our Global Secret Santa campaign this month has been a success, with 23 countries taking part so far. We are excited about December sales which are set to grow further and are aiming for our best Christmas yet!”

Giles Harridge, co-founder of, says:

“Our November sales were way ahead of our forecast and expectations.  Our like for like sales directly through our web site in November (excluding our channel business) increased 57% year-on-year and was up 123% on October.  This follows consistently strong growth throughout 2009, culminating in being ranked 12th in the Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100,  the definitive guide to the fastest growing privately held companies in the UK.  

“There is no single factor contributing to this growth, rather a mix of the enthusiasm of our customers for our unique products and the fact we deliver on our service promise every time, which gives people the confidence to keep coming back. It seems the market remains buoyant when a company offers a great range of products and excellent service.”

About IMRG

IMRG (Interactive Media In Retail Group) is the industry body for global e-Retail. Formed in 1990, IMRG is setting and maintaining pragmatic and robust e-Retail Standards to enable fast-track industry growth, and facilitates its community of members with practical help, information, tools, guidance and networking. Consumers can be confident when dealing with IMRG Members because all have committed to operate using methods that are Honest, Decent, Legal, Truthful and Fair, and have undertaken to not bring the industry into disrepute. The strength of IMRG is the collective and co-operative power of its members.

About Capgemini

Capgemini, one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services, enables its clients to transform and perform through technologies. Capgemini provides its clients with insights and capabilities that boost their freedom to achieve superior results through a unique way of working - the Collaborative Business Experience - and through a global delivery model called Rightshore®, which aims to offer the right resources in the right location at competitive cost. Present in 36 countries, Capgemini reported 2007 global revenues of EUR 8.7 billion and employs over 83,000 people worldwide.

More information is available at

About the ‘IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index’

The IMRG Capgemini Index tracks ‘online sales’, which we define as ‘transactions completed fully, including payment, via interactive channels’ from any location, including in-store.  These sales are predominantly internet-based today, but the Index remains ready to record e-retail sales conducted via whatever interactive channels the market may embrace in the future.

Over one hundred e-retailers now regularly contribute data to the IMRG Capgemini Index, including Airport Parking & Hotels Ltd, Amara, Arcadia Group (Burton, Top Man, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis, Miss Selfridge), Ascension (formerly,,,,, Black Essentials, Blacks,,, Boots Direct, Brora,,, Carphone Warehouse, Charles Tyrwhitt,  Clarks, Cloggs, Comet, Co-operative Travel,,, Damart, Daxon, Debenhams, Dobbies,, Ethical Superstore, Faith Shoes,, Firebox, First Choice, Freemans Grattan Holdings, Furniture123, Game, Gameplay, Gamestation, Getting,,, Holiday Extras, Home & Cook, House of Fraser, Interflora, JD Sports, J D Williams, Jack Wills, Jason Shankey, John Lewis Partnership,, La Magia, La Redoute,, Lighting-Direct, LK Bennett,, M and M Direct, Made in Sheffield, Marks & Spencer, Millets, Monster Travel, Musto, Naked Wines,, New Look, Next, Peacocks, Perfect Handbags,, PIXmania,, QED-UK, QVC, R C Roland, Redcats UK, Redfoot Revolution, Richer Sounds, Rubber Sole, Sainsbury’s, Scales Express,, Shop Direct Home Shopping, Schuh, Serenata Flowers, Shudoo,, SockShop, Sofa and Home,,, Tesco Electrical, The Fragrance Shop, The Health Supermarket, The Natural Store, TUI UK, Turton Wines, Vertbaudet, Vie at Home, Waitrose, Wallace Sacks, Wilkinson Hardware &