Online sales growth hits 13-year high

The holiday period drove significant sales in electricals – up +116% (YoY)

UK online sales growth remained solid throughout December, coming in at +37% year-on-year (YoY) for the month and driving the annual figure to a 13-year high, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.

The index said that after a “turbulent year”, which was underscored by high street closures and restrictions on the consumer way of life, 2020 brought online retail “to the fore like never before” – with a full-year growth figure of +36% (YoY) significantly outperforming the start-of-year prediction of +7.8% (YoY).

As the UK navigated a series of tiered lockdowns, online retail sales in December defied forecasts of a poor Christmas trading period. With sales starting early and Christmas travel plans halted, online shopping continued the momentum it had built throughout the quarter – with sales up 37.6%, across the three months.

This was seen to be largely driven by November’s peak performance of +39% YoY and the Black Friday sales period.

Breaking down the results, the retail index also revealed the holiday period drove significant sales in electricals – up +116% (YoY). As firmer restrictions were put in place and people continued to meet outside, gardening sales were also strong for December – up +165% YoY. These figures round-off an extremely successful year for both categories, with electrical sales up +90.8% YoY and garden sales up + 222.5%.

Meanwhile as social interactions dwindled throughout the year, poor December clothing sales of +3.2% YoY failed to boost the yearly figure of just +1.3%. This was down from 8.2%
in 2019. Footwear was particularly hard hit, down -5% YoY in December and -10.8% overall in 2020.

Other notable spending trends in December include the widening of the gap between multichannel and online only retailer performance – with the two groups recording figures of (+52.4%) and (+11.4%) respectively.

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant – Retail Insight, Capgemini said: “Retail in 2020 has been fundamentally shaped by the pandemic, which caused disruption to consumer demand norms and a shift in focus to digital channels; reflected in the strongest online Year-onYear growth in 13 years.

“Learnings from 2020 will be crucial as we navigate the uncertainties this year and a sense of a new baseline will take a while to be established.”

She added: “Retailers best set to ride out the storm are those with a strong online presence and the ability to remain nimble, using demand sensing to react to the changing landscape and adapt to surges both instore and online, combined with a readiness to take on opportunities as they come in 2021.”

Back to top button

Please disable your ad-blocker to continue

Ads are the primary way in which publishers generate the revenue needed to pay their staff. If we can't serve ads, we can't pay journalists to write the news.