Dec 15, 2020
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Online sales at 13-year high in November, fashion up slightly but footwear weak

Dec 15, 2020

The double-whammy of a second lockdown and Black Friday meant UK online sales really rocketed, hitting a 13-year high in November.

Photo: Free Domain

With non-essential stores closed and a hunger to shop for serious Black Friday bargains, sales peaked 39% higher year-on-year last month, building on November 2019’s 20% growth, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index. This was also a massive 58% rise compared to October.

But with lockdown in full force in England and the need for new winter wear subdued, fashion sales registered a modest overall gain of 6.4%, with some strong weeks that saw 20-30% rises offset by much weaker performances in others. And after October’s spike in sales, footwear fell once more, down 9.1% year-on-year, becoming the only category last month to register a decline.

"Clothing and its sub-categories (ie footwear) just haven't managed to secure anything like the massive online growth that these other categories have seen in 2020", Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director for IMRG, told Fashion Network.

As is usual, demand for electrical goods was high, up 72.8% on-year. And as people continued to spend more time outside during lockdown, garden-related sales leapt an impressive 127%. Another high-performing category was homewares & decorations, leaping 154% on a year ago.

Other notable spending trends in November included a spike in mobile commerce sales, up 110% on-year. Meanwhile, there was evidence that consumers are buying more in bulk as average basket values totalled £98 compared to £75 in November 2019.

Andy Mulcahy said: “[November] was actually a huge month for online growth, especially since it built on a strong rate of growth in 2019. It was also the highest November growth rate since 2007 – and there have been some huge Novembers since Black Friday arrived in the UK”.

He added: “The positive news for retailers is that the actual monetary spend was the highest we've ever recorded in our index – shoppers started spending early in November and continued to do so right the way through the month.

"It has led, as expected, to some delivery delays. One area of concern will be the fact that sales growth online remained very strong (+52%) in week one of December, so the volumes are still incredibly high as we approach Christmas, causing further pressure for carriers.”

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