Online & Digital

Online retail growth drops 8.7% in May

Categories seeing the worst performance were health and beauty (-28%) and home and garden (-23%)

Online retail sales growth declined -8.7% year-on-year in May 2022, despite being measured against a negative performance in May 2021 (-6%), as trading conditions continue to be “very tough”. 

According to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks online sales for 200 retailers, May’s results also represented a -0.6% dip month-on-month (MoM) against April.

On a month-by-month basis, there was reportedly some variation in performance by week, with week one recording the lowest growth at -10.9% year-on-year, whilst week three was almost positive at -0.3%. IMRG said this may have been a Jubilee boost, with people purchasing patriotic clothing and other items in advance of the bank holiday.

However, despite widespread discounting, the Average Basket Value (ABV) has been rising “notably” since January 2022, reaching a new all-time high of £151.

IMRG said this is likely due to a number of factors including inflation, customers ordering multiple items at once in order to avoid repeat delivery fees, and a preference for higher quality items to avoid having to buy again in the near future. 

Additionally, website traffic was also up 8% year-on-year, though retailers are reporting lengthy purchase cycles as consumers sit in the consideration stage for longer.

At a category level, the majority tracked in the Index reported negative growth, often against negative figures for the same period last year. Among those, the categories seeing the worst performance were health and beauty (-28%) and home and garden (-23%). 

On a better note, clothing continues to see a strong performance, with sales rising by +14% overall, including +18% for womenswear and +12% for menswear.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: “May’s performance was pretty awful online. April’s results suggested growth might be flat, but it is clear now that the economic situation is having a deep impact on demand.

“The one bright area is clothing, where growth was strong this month against +13.5% in May 2021. It seems to be a category making up for lost time, following almost flat growth in 2020; could be that it is now simply benefiting from the increased number of people shopping online, combined with a general sense among the UK public that the pandemic is over.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, head of Brand and Content, frog, part of Capgemini Invent, added: “It was only the mid-market retailers who saw any type of growth at +0.5%. With less disposable income to hand, this definitely lends weight to the speculation that consumers are seeking out longer-lasting quality in their goods.”

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