IMRG Capgemini: Online retail sales growth drops sharply as Brits return to the high street

Faced with a reopened high street, further easing of lockdown and a comparative twelve-year ecommerce high in 2020, online retail sales continued to fall to record-breaking lows in June, down -14.1% Year-on-Year (YoY).

That is according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers. The Month-on-Month (MoM) dip from May of -4.6% was larger than typical for this time of year in pre-pandemic times, and following similar MoM declines in April and May, this made June’s YoY result the biggest drop in the history of the Index.

Quick Stats
  • Online retail sales fell by -14.1% Year-on-Year last month – the steepest drop in the history of the Index for the second month running
  • This comes as spend continues to be compared to exceptionally high growth in 2020, but lockdown easing and the high street reopening are also contributing factors
  • June’s performance falls well below the 3-month, 6-month and 12-month rolling averages of -4.54%, +26.2% and +35.5%
  • Following soaring sales in 2020, most categories saw negative growth, with health & beauty in particular down a massive -42.8%
  • Buoyed perhaps by football fever, beers & wines was one of June’s few winners – recording a jubilant rise of +20.9%

At a category level, the picture was similarly dour as retailers continue to struggle against high 2020 comparisons. Almost all categories reported negative growth, with the exception of clothing (+18.6%), beers & wines (+20.9%) and – somehow – garden (+19.9%).

In this last case, this comes despite the British summer failing to make much of an appearance last month and over a year of people stocking up their patios and garden sheds. Meanwhile in the week that England prepared to play Germany for a place in the Euro 2020 semi-finals (commencing 27 June), beers & wines sales soared by +52.0%.

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

Looking ahead it’s going to be interesting to see how the 19th July ‘Freedom Day’ impacts online spend, although most restrictions will be eased for the high-street there is a potential for an increase in self-isolation numbers from track & trace, which could slow the decline in online demand as many rely on home delivery.

Chris Long, Director, Retail Consulting, Capgemini