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High Street

May sees online retail sales fall 9.1%, latest data reveals

Despite this, when measured against May 2019’s pre-pandemic levels, last month’s figures represent an overall 46% increase in sales volume

Online retail sales fell 9.1% year-on-year last month compared with 2020 which saw a growth of 61% according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index.

Despite this, when measured against May 2019’s pre-pandemic levels, last month’s figures represent an overall 46% increase in sales volume.

At a category level, the tide continues to turn on those categories that flourished in 2020 and now face very high YoY comparisons, with electricals dropping 6% in sales growth, health and beauty by 29.2% and home and garden by 9.4%.

However, although holidays abroad are still in flux, clothing continues to perform well with a 13.1% increase as consumers scramble to cover all eventualities of the unpredictable British weather.

Elsewhere, beers and wine also had a strong month, with growth of 7.5%.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG, said: “While the 9.1% year-on-year drop is technically the biggest in the 21-year history of the index, it can be misleading as it is compared against a huge growth rate last year.

“Things are changing fast: the high street reopened in April, then further easing of restrictions in May brought more spending opportunities. If all goes according to plan there, summer could see this trend of decline in online volume continue.”

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant, retail read for Analytics & AI, Capgemini, added: “A significant drop in year-on-year performance in May is not surprising against last year’s heights of online growth.

Consumer confidence has recovered to pre-lockdown levels in May as hospitality venues open up which is good news for retailers, however this, combined with the arrival of warmer weather in June may see online performance against last year continue to swing to the negative for the next month or so.”

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