IMRG: Online retail sales surge by 41.3% as lockdown eases in the UK

The week that high street stores reopened as lockdown eased in the UK, online retail sales surged by +41.3% Year-on-Year (YoY) and +1.8% Week-on-Week (WoW). This marks the second strongest YoY growth since lockdown measures were put in place, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.

Despite the reopening of their physical stores on June 15, multichannel retailers recorded online sales growth of +4% WoW. Compared to 2019, this represented a staggering increase of +71% YoY, which is the highest growth ever recorded for this group.

Taking a closer look at how the categories performed, the weekly results were primarily driven by strong sales in Home & Garden and Electricals – up +114.7% YoY and +99.9% YoY respectively. Health & Beauty sales also rose by +70.5% YoY, but were down by -2.5% WoW. With many Health & Beauty stores open during lockdown, however, this dip may not have been influenced by the high street reopening. Meanwhile, despite some steep discounting, online clothing sales plateaued at 0% growth WoW.

IMRGAt first glance, it might seem a bit odd that the multichannel retailers – those with stores – recorded the highest online growth ever (+71%) in the week that their stores reopened. It seems that all the fanfare around high streets opening again did spur an increase in sales activity, as people perhaps start to feel things are returning to something a bit closer to ‘normal’, but what that normal is going to be received some clarity. The bulk of that activity remains focused online, with shoppers visiting stores in much lower numbers but with a clearly focused intention to complete a purchase, as opposed to just browsing. It’s early days and the 2m rule is set to be reduced to 1m+ soon, but a revealing indication of how shopper behaviour is now structured perhaps.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG