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News - 23 May 2011

Online sales continue to flourish

There may be a slump on the high street but online retail is going from strength to strength. Some of the fastest growing sectors include: supermarkets; department stores; travel; and fashion.

The Olympic Games site has also been a front runner with online bidding for tickets being the big story of this year’s HOT 100. Internet users flocking to register for events sent the London 2012 Ticket website to number 35 in the Hot Shops list.

The Olympics is still over a year away, but sports fans desperate to get their hands on tickets caused an eight-fold increase in traffic to the London 2012 Ticket website in the last week of April as the registration deadline approached.

Alongside the Olympics site (and perhaps not unrelated) three sports retailers made the HOT 100 this year, including (ranked 40), JD Sports (73) and a new entry to the list, JJB Sports (95). The increase in visits may have been influenced by the forthcoming Olympics, but was also a result of the ongoing growth in the online fashion industry, which has been a consistent driver for the online market.

Year-on-year the fastest moving online categories were Department Stores, Apparel and Accessories, and Grocery and Alcohol.

Department stores now account for 18% of all UK Internet visits to online retailers, in part thanks to the growth of sites like House of Fraser.

It has been another good year for supermarkets online, with Tesco securing third place overall (up two places from last year) and Sainsbury’s ranked number 22 (up 17 places from last year).

With summer just around the corner, and some unusually good weather in April, Home and Garden specialists B&Q and Homebase benefited from increased Internet traffic and improved rankings year-on-year. B&Q broke into the top 10 of the Hot Shops list, achieving its highest ranking ever at number nine.

James Roper, CEO at IMRG, said, “Although there were some initial concerns about the low volumes of people registering for Olympic tickets, these results show that interest boomed as the cut-off date for applications approached.

“While there is a strong showing in the Hot Shops list from the largest and most successful pureplays, such as Amazon, and ASOS, it is the multichannel retailers that are benefiting from the biggest increases in website traffic.

“Even the newcomers to the online market are making huge strides up the rankings, with TK Maxx recording an impressive gain. The popularity of online grocery shopping in general has pushed the sector up among the best performing overall, with three of the Big Four in the top 25 and Morrisons looking set to join them if they enter the transactional online market, as their site traffic levels are already very high.”

Robin Goad, Director of Research at Experian Hitwise comments, “This has been another fascinating year for online retail and looking at the churn of websites in the HOT 100 list just goes to show how competitive the online space has become.

“We’ve seen some pretty significant movement within the top 10 online retailers, with Tesco moving up to third place and B&Q breaking into the top 10 for the first time. Higher ranking in the HOT 100 means more visits coming to a brand’s website which is a high priority for most retailers.

“Some companies are choosing to increase their online presence in order to increase the reach of their brand, whilst others are using online as a customer service tool, but ultimately more visits to a website means more sales and it is this reason that is driving the thriving competition between our HOT 100 retailers. The key trends we’ve witnessed this year are that department stores and fashion retailers are expanding their online capabilities in order to drive more sales. There has been a big push this quarter to buy garden furniture online, and that’s mostly attributable to the pre-summer sunshine and demand for BBQs.”

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Roper, James

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