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UK online clothing sales hit record low in May

UK online retail sales growth hit a record low in May, new figures show, with the apparel sector having an uncharacteristically tough month.

Online retail sales hit their lowest growth rate in over a year and a half, the latest statistics from IMRG Capgemini show. Although revenues were up 10.2% in May year-on-year, the snap general election, Brexit talks, and rising inflation have pushed consumer spending to a new low.

Clothing was hit particularly hard, with the sector only recording single digit growth at 7.6% in May - the lowest recorded for the month in the history of the index. Menswear fell by 2% year-on-year.

Womenswear returned to positive growth after April's uncharacteristic decline, with the sector seeing 4.3% year-on-year growth.

Excluding travel, the Index recorded annual growth of 10.7% and a monthly increase of 5.1% from April.

The figures showed growth of 23.1% year-on-year for sales through tablets and smartphones, with e-commerce sales via smartphones, in particular, growing by almost half in May. Tablets contributed 4.9% less in the same period.

Andy Burton, CEO of digital commerce solutions provider Tryzens warns that consumer spending can be "very volatile", especially in uncertain times, but that retailers must not let a recent overall dip in what are still growth rates for e-commerce wobble them.

"The dramatic growth in sales via smartphones could also be even more attributed to the weather – if people are spending less time inside they're more likely to only have their smartphone to hand when shopping online. While June is a record-breaking month for temperatures, May fared well in itself with dry spells, and if the trend continues we could well be seeing June's sales via mobile get another significant boost."

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