This is the conclusion from the 2017 Epsilon Abacus Home Shopping Trends Report which is based on analysis carried out on the transactional activity of Abacus Alliance members for 2015 and 2016. The annual trends report covers brands within six categories – Clothing; Food & Wine; Gardening; Generalist Retail; Gifts, Gadgets & Entertainment; and Home Interiors & Household Goods.
Sales in 2016 grew by 12.3% year-on-year (YoY). Looking at the overall patterns of the sector, the EU referendum did impact on mailing plans. A slow start to the year saw things picking up in April and May before declining in June, as retailers cut mailing volumes. Q3 growth was below the average for the year despite a strong July (14.8% increase YoY).
Concerns about how the referendum would affect consumer confidence were dispelled later in the year with a return to strong sales in Q4, with YoY growth of 16.2%. This was led by December, the month with biggest YoY increase of 20.3%.
Inflation, which had been low throughout the early part of the year, began to rise towards the end. This may have contributed to some of the increase in spending in Q4, as consumers brought forward purchasing decisions in anticipation of price rises in 2017.
The weather in December was also cooler and dryer than the previous year, which had been abnormally warm and wet. This normalised weather may have also contributed to the strong end to the year.