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UK Online and High Street retail took a hit in March 2018

By Dan Wilson April 17, 2018 - 6:04 am

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?

  • Julius Oliveti
    1 week ago

    The first 3 month of this year have been like this:

    AMAZON:
    Way down but products consistently around the same selling rank. Can only concluded market is shrinking or more sellers diluting it.

    EBAY:
    Jan and Feb up on December but March was sluggish.

    My thoughts for this:
    Chinese VAT evaders now registered but NOT paying VAT.
    Less disposable income
    Uncertainty in the world/UK/Brexit
    Less disposable income

  • Toby
    1 week ago

    Well what hasn’t been mentioned is the catch up from Christmas… every year people over spend and come end of jan and feb they struggle to pay credit cards etc… now add to this the extremely cold weather on more that one occassion and you have higher heating bills. Just because you can shop online doesnt mean you will… come March people are normally starting to think of summer, and all the accessories that go with it. yet with winter still having us tight in its grip who was thinking of buying summer stuff? Yes wages are picking up but the picture is a very complex one.
    I runa very seasonal business and saw an average Jan and Feb and a dire March, yet as soon as the talk was of a warm dry spell, well sales have rocketed and we are currently up 71% on this time last year. Most of this is proberly people that held off in March. I really think we will have to wait a few more months before we can start drawing longer term conclusions, becuase at the moment everytime a figure decreases we roll out the same old arguements for it, then the figure increases and we gloss over it as a blip!

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