Online retail parcel delivery order volumes were up +13.9% year-on-year in April, according to the latest data from the IMRG MetaPack UK Delivery Index. Easter, which usually provides a boost for retail sales activity, fell early this year (in March), so a dip in volumes may have been expected in April due to the tough comparator with last year (when Easter was in April). However, the monthly decline on March was actually only marginal (-0.3%).
In April, the index typically records lower order volumes than are seen during the first quarter of the year. This may be a contributing factor to an uplift in on-time delivery performance, which came in at just over 90%. Throughout 2017, on-time performance was generally tracked at a lower rate than that seen over the past few years, with a record low of 84.6% recorded in December 2017. A higher share of orders using faster, next-day delivery services is likely to be a main influence here.
Andrew Starkey, head of e-Logistics, IMRG, said:
“It’s so far, so good for order volumes given that, toward the end of last year, the indicators for 2018 were not particularly good – there was a squeeze on household incomes, consumer confidence wasn’t particularly strong and many retailers were reporting tough trading conditions. However, so far 2018 has proved to be a good year for online retail. Many of the economic pressures have eased as the year has progressed so shoppers are finding themselves with a bit more spare change in their pockets, plus there are some major events, such as the royal wedding and the World Cup, to help stimulate interest and activity around certain product ranges.”
One positive trend that has been consistent for a while now is a gradual increase in average order values. For 14 months in a row, the value for each month has increased compared to the same month the previous year. While it may be expected that the favourable exchange rate for the euro against the pound may be driving demand from shoppers based in the EU, it is actually UK-based shoppers who have fuelled most of this increase.
Maria Dahlqvist Canton, global marketing director, MetaPack, said:
"While delivery volumes in February, March and April are traditionally lower than during other times of the year, it is heartening to see that order volumes in April 2018 have shown a year on year increase. This puts year-to-date cumulative growth at 12.9%, right on target for the forecasted 13% growth to the end of the year, which is very positive.”