Online sales growth stagnated last month as strong sales in menswear were hampered by declines in electricals, gifts and home and garden categories.

Ecommerce sales rose just 3% in August as revenue growth fell well short of 9.5% five-year average, according to the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index.

The sales increase was also below the rolling three-, six- and 12-month averages of 5.3%, 3.8% and 5.7% respectively.

Sales for online-only operators rose 4.8%, marginally ahead of the 3.5% uplift registered by their multichannel counterparts.

Clothing sales recorded the strongest growth overall, up 9.1% and bolstered by a 21.9% rise in menswear sales and a 7.3% uplift in footwear.

However, this growth was dampened by 22.5% and 30.3% respective sales declines across electricals and gifts. And despite late summer sunshine and the Bank Holiday weekend, sales across beers, wines and spirits and home & garden were both also down year on year.

IMRG strategy and insight director Andy Mulcahy said: “Growth for online sales in 2019 has been well below expectation this year, but there was some hope that it would balance out as 2018 was a year of two distinct halves – the first half was very strong, the second half far less so.

“It was as we entered the third-quarter last year that growth started to fall away, so this should be the point at which growth rates edge up again as they are against lower rates from last year. That has not happened.

“It’s not universal bad news – some categories are doing quite well still, but in general retailers are having to work hard to drive sales activity; the average spend is down by around one-third, quite likely due to discounting, and the higher-spend categories of electricals and home & garden are both in negative territory.

“It’s difficult to see anything terribly positive on the horizon as we move toward the crucial peak trading period; it could be a very tough one this year.”