Online festive sales leap not to be seen on the high street

FURTHER evidence of the boom in internet shopping emerged yesterday after an online marketplace showcasing thousands of UK designers and creative small businesses reported a surge in its festive sales.

The growth in online sales was not reflected on the high street. Picture: Hemedia
The growth in online sales was not reflected on the high street. Picture: Hemedia, which was founded in 2006 and is backed by a number of venture capitalists, hailed a “successful” Christmas period with year-on-year growth of 25 per cent for the four weeks leading up to 24 December.

Top-performing products included customised metal street signs, chocolate Brussel sprouts, gin tasting and distillery tours, beard grooming kits and personalised children’s story books.

The figures follow news that John Lewis had made a strong online start to its clearance sale with website orders up almost 11 per cent year-on-year on Christmas Day. This followed an increase of 17.7 per cent in the first hour of the online start to the sale at 5pm on Christmas Eve.

Analysts said the internet was playing an “ever increasing role” in shoppers’ search for bargains in clearance sales as well as during the crucial run-up to Christmas.

A raft of trading updates will be released over the coming fortnight with those retailers who have invested heavily in their online operations expected to have fared the best.

Bosses at said innovation in new products had driven a 50 per cent hike in total transaction value – or gross sales – over the period, consistent with its full-year trend.

Among the site’s core categories, home and garden enjoyed a 34 per cent jump in gross sales over the period while jewellery registered a 23 per cent rise in overall takings.

The new category of “experiences” racked up growth of 360 per cent year-on-year, as customers looked to “invest in memorable activities”. Artisanal food and drink posted a 78 per cent gain.

There were also strong results flagged for the full year with gross sales across the site topping £155 million, up from £127m in 2014, driven by 1.4 million new customers and a “compelling product proposition”.

Chief executive Simon Belsham said: “Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen strong momentum in sales as we continue to work closely with our partners to evolve our offer. This includes the development of new categories like experiences as well as innovation in our core categories like home and jewellery.

“Looking ahead, we’ll continue to deliver against our mission to connect the best creative small businesses with the world.”

Founded by Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish, the business now has a team of more than 200 people at its headquarters in south-west London. It is backed by venture capitalists Venrex Investment Management, Index Ventures, 83North, Industry Ventures and Eight Road Ventures.