Online retail orders going to EU hit highest rate for four years


Online retail delivery order volumes were up 13.9% year-on-year in May, according to the latest data from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index.


This follows a slow-down in growth in April, which may have been influenced by the surprise announcement of the general election, in addition to the timing of the bank holidays this year, possibly delaying some April dispatches into May.

The data further revealed that the average order value (AOV) hit its highest rate for May since the Index launched in 2011. This is consistent with rises seen in the e-retail index, where the average basket value was up +18% in May compared with the same month last year. The AOV for both domestic orders and those being fulfilled to customers in the EU has been gradually increasing over the past 6 months, pushing the overall AOV up, while those going to non-EU destinations has decreased slightly over the past few months.

Since the Brexit vote in June last year, the value of sterling has fallen against other currencies. While the major currencies have all gained against the pound, the euro has maintained its strengthened position more consistently than others over recent months. This is likely to be a factor influencing a rise in the proportion of orders going to EU destinations, which at 61.8% is the highest share since we began tracking this in August 2013 (the remaining share are tracked as going to non-EU destinations).

Andrew Starkey, Head of e-Logistics, IMRG: “One of the main clichés about Brexit is that it brings uncertainty. While that may be true from a technical and legal perspective, the impact of Brexit so far on retail has been very clear – as the pound tumbled following the vote and has remained at that lower level since. A record high for May average order values may sound like good news for retailers on the surface, but it could be masking a wider issue around profit margins – shoppers from EU markets are likely being attracted to UK retailers because their currency is strong, relatively speaking, which means they are actually getting the equivalent of a discount on products purchased from UK sites.”

Chris Hoskin, Head of Marketing, MetaPack, said: “14% order volume growth month-on-month and the highest average order value in May since 2011; there’s much to cheer in ecommerce. However, the continued devaluing of the pound against the euro means that the volume of orders going to EU destinations continues to increase, necessitating a focus on optimised and controlled shipping costs. A potential trend towards lower order volume going to non-EU destinations will also be a concern for business with large non-EU customer bases.”

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