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UK e-retail delivery volumes dip in September: calm before peak festive shopping season?

· Warmer weather affects online delivery volumes in September but still up on last year

· UK retailers on course to dispatch record number of orders and parcels in 2014

· Continued progress in increasing on-time and reducing carded deliveries

The latest IMRG MetaPack Delivery Index shows an unexpected slowdown in parcel growth in September following the predicted lull in August. However, the volume of deliveries is still 10.9% up on September 2013 and cumulative volume growth is holding at 18.9% for 2014.

The Index confirms what other recent retail data studies have suggested, that online retail slowed down in September probably because of how unseasonably warm weather held back sales of newly launched autumn and winter clothing ranges.

However Andrew Starkey Head of e-Logistics for IMRG said “Volumes are still up against the same period last year and remain 18.9% on 2013 cumulatively so we still believe that UK retailers will dispatch a record of circa 890 million online orders and 928 million parcels in 2014.”

He added: “We would expect the weather to worsen and drive up autumn and winter clothing range sales. But in order to catch up on a quiet September it is possible that some online retailers will begin to discount earlier.”

In an encouraging pre-peak season trend, the proportion of orders delivered or attempted within the promised time frame is up on the previous three months –on-time deliveries for September was 94.3% compared to 93.89% in August; and carded deliveries came from 4.61% in August to 3.03% in September.

Angela O’Connell, Marketing and Strategy Director, MetaPack commented: “Retailers and carriers are getting ready for Christmas and September’s improving data on delivery performance is encouraging even though it is fractionally less than the same month last year. But we still feel that the scale of collaboration within the industry means there’s the extra capacity, commitment and alternative service innovation to cope with forecasts of a record online Christmas for orders and parcels. In particular, the rapid development of in-store and third party click and collect networks will play a key role in providing the additional delivery channels retailers will need this year to satisfy festive shoppers.”

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