Jul 14, 2021
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UK e-sales go into reverse but fashion stays strong

Jul 14, 2021

UK online retail sales dropped 14.1% in June, which was the biggest fall since the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index began. 

Photo: Pexels/Public domain

But that wasn't really an unexpected catastrophe given the massive rises that have been seen in online sales since the pandemic began — and the fact that consumers seem comfortable getting back to physical shopping.

The Index tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers and the latest edition compares badly to exceptionally high growth during 2020.

The month-on-month (MoM) dip from May, 4.6%, was also larger than typical for this time of year in pre-pandemic times, and followed similar MoM declines in April and May.

Following soaring sales in 2020, most categories saw negative growth, with health & beauty in particular down a massive 42.8%.

But there was a bright spot for fashion. Almost all categories reported negative growth, yet clothing was up 18.6%. Beers & wines (+20.9%) and garden (+19.9%) were the only two other categories to rise, despite the lack of hot weather last month. 

The clothing increase suggests that consumers are committed to socialising and feeling the need to refresh their wardrobes as a result. The return to work and preparations for the holiday season (albeit largely limited to the UK) would also have had an impact.

Further positivity could also be seen in the Average Basket Volume (ABV) as it has maintained a steady growth rate in 2021, suggesting an increasing level of consumer comfort with big-ticket and volume spend online. In June, the ABV stood at £134, compared to £85 in June 2020.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG said the ABV growth suggests “that retailers in some categories are finding they are less reliant on discounting to drive sales at the moment; with such high demand running down stock and ongoing issues around supply, shoppers are far more likely to buy an item when they see it in stock, rather than shop around for a better price. This is not true of all categories however, with beauty being a notable exception”.

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