Extreme heat boosts July clothing sales, reveals latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index

Masarà SS23

July’s record-breaking hot weather boosted online clothing sales, reveals the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index.

According to its findings, digital fashion transactions grew by +11.9 per cent compared to July 2021 as shoppers topped up their wardrobes with heatwave-friendly clothing.

Overall online retail sales growth dipped -2.3 per cent, which continued the declining trend seen throughout 2022. However, it represents the joint lowest decline the Index has seen this year and a considerable improvement on its monthly, quarterly and annual averages.

Britain’s hottest day on record and the women’s Euro tournament could have been influencing factors. While three out of four weeks in July saw negative growth, the week leading into the 40-degree heatwave saw the strongest growth for any week so far in 2022 at +5.8 per cent YoY.

The categories driving the uplift were electricals, clothing and garden. For the month as a whole only clothing and garden (+3.3 per cent) recorded positive growth.

Summer sales

Data analysts at IMRG say the heatwave made it more difficult to trace any uplifts directly attributable to the success of the Euros tournament as electricals, beers, wines and spirits and clothing would be the main categories to spike. For clothing, which includes sportswear, the conversion rate across July was in line with that of the same weeks in 2021, whereas it had been down slightly for the rest of the year. This suggests there may have been some early influence, which it says may become clearer in August’s figures.

Andy Mulcahy, IMRG’s strategy and insight director, comments: “It seems remarkable that it took the hottest day in British history and England actually winning a football tournament to produce only slightly negative growth. It does make you wonder what would need to happen for it to be positive!

“Black Friday/ peak season trading looks like it might be very difficult this year, given the Bank of England has increased interest rates and inflation is expected to reach 13 per cent by then. In April, the energy cap went up and people saw the NIC rise in their pay packets for the first time, consequently causing sales in the first week of May to fall through the floor. It seems likely the next energy cap rise in October will do something similar to the start of peak trading.”

Simon Binge, commerce senior manager customer transformation at Capgemini, adds: “As the pressure on their spend continues to mount, consumers are having to make tough choices with regards to their purchasing behaviour. And the July data suggests that seeking value for money is more important than ever. The growth in order volumes (+26.1 per cent) of premium footwear retailers combined with lower basket values implies consumers are seeking value through quality, albeit in more affordable options or during promotional discounts. Whereas in an adjacent category – womenswear – the growth of budget retailers (+9.6 per cent) and decline of premium retailers (-6.4 per cent) supports the trend that consumers are willing to switch brands in the pursuit of value.” 

About the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index

The IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which started in April 2000, tracks the online sales of 200 retailers defined as ‘transactions completed fully, including payment, via interactive channels’ from any location.