Jun 9, 2021
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Lockdown end means UK online sales drop, but fashion is still on a high

Jun 9, 2021

Online sales in the UK fell 9.1% year-on-year last month, although this was against a 61% increase in May 2020. And even with the fall, spend remain strong with sales volumes rising 46% compared to May 2019.

UK consumers continued to shop online last month as they got out and about post-lockdown. Photo: Pixabay/Public domain

That's according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.

The majority of categories saw little-to-no growth, following huge gains in 2020, with health & beauty down 29.2%. But there was good news for the fashion sector with clothing bucking the trend as it rose 13.1%. It was suggested that, with holidays abroad still in flux, consumers may have wanted to cover all eventualities of the unpredictable British weather, something that could have boosted sales generally.

But after the previous month’s surge (+35.8%), it appears consumers have had their footwear fix as sales fell 7.3%.

The index also showed that the Average Basket Volume (ABV) has been rising steadily throughout the year, and now stands at £130.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG: “While the 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. The monthly growth between April and May is more revealing. When comparing the same period in 2019 (a normal year) there is a 10-percentage point difference this year, which also happened between March and April. So, there is definitely a slowing down in demand, though from a very high base.

And he thinks that “if all goes according to plan with the final reopening, summer could see this trend of decline continue.”

Meanwhile, Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant - Retail Lead for Analytics & AI at Capgemini, added: “A significant drop in May is not surprising against last year’s heights of online growth. This was accentuated for multichannel retailers (-13.9%) compared to online-only (-1.34%) as hospitality has started to open up this month and consumers returned to the shops. Budget retailers also saw the largest swings, down -12.8%, compared to mid-market (-6.2%) and premium retailers (+0.2%).”

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