UK SME Online Retailers Experience Slowdown in Sales

…But Actinic research reports ecommerce still better than High Street retail

The fifth quarterly UK online sales survey conducted by ecommerce specialist Actinic shows a continued slowdown in online retail growth for small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

The research reports both an average 7% increase in sales revenue as well as a 7% increase in the numbers of orders processed in the three months to 30 June 2011, when compared to the same quarter in 2010.

In contrast, in Q2 2010 growth was running at over double this rate (15%), and with the Q1 2011 figures showing an average 9% increase, the trend is downwards. However, these latest results still compare very favourably with high street retailers where June gave only 1.5% growth, which was better than expected.

The average order value has remained virtually unchanged at £72.08 for Q2 2011 compared to £72.16 for Q2 2010. The survey does highlight that there are still e-retailers experiencing strong growth. For example, many specialist web stores in the arts and crafts sector are thriving.

“Our Actinic ecommerce site has been running for over 7 years and we are still experiencing strong growth with a 13% increase in revenue and 6% increase in order quantity for our Q2 2011 figures over the same time last year.”

says owner Michael Calvert. He adds,

“The knitting marketing has seen a resurgence with celebrity endorsements from the likes of Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz, combined with more people wanting to take up a new, inexpensive, but rewarding pastime. The cold winter last year also helped, with scarves becoming fashionable again which attracted younger knitters.”

Monica Hardman, managing director of English Yarns comments:

“In April our 2011 turnover for the year was down 23% compared with 2010. So we implemented a discount programme with coupon codes to increase traffic to our site and incentivise visitors to purchase, firstly to those in the UK and EU and then customers in the rest of the world. Within a month we were into positive figures again with an increase of 3% in May and 12% in June for the year to date.”

Nick Kington, managing director at Actinic Online comments,

“These figures are not a big surprise. Consumer spending is clearly being hit hard and online retailers are not immune to tough times. However, some web merchants are thriving, highlighting that a combination of good merchandising, marketing and customer service can bring success even in the current climate.”

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