IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index: online sales continue to underperform in October

Despite expectations that an early start to festive spending might herald a return to growth in October, online retail sales have continued to remain low, falling by -11.2% 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.

While the Month-on-Month (MoM) surge of +11.2% proved the highest since the high streets reopened in April, this performance falls in line with pre-pandemic patterns for this time of year.

Last month’s slowdown in online sales was once again kicked off by a poor first week, down -12.5% compared to only -0.9% during the last week. While the average basket value (ABV) remains high at £131 (though down from its August peak of £149), the conversion rate has fallen further (+2.9% in Oct 2021 vs +4.1% in Oct 2020), suggesting ongoing issues with stock levels, due to the pressure on the supply chain.

At a category level, beers, wines and spirits retailers are still seeing positive growth, but only just – up +2.2% compared to last month’s figures of +18.6%. The only other category to record growth was clothing – up +7.5%. Elsewhere, for only the second time since December 2019, garden sales have declined (-7.5%), while health and beauty remains the worst hit category at -23.3% growth.

The potential for Christmas shopping to get underway early this year did not really materialise in October, but it is evident that retailers are certainly trying to get it moving in early November. Of the 317 retailers IMRG is tracking every day, 25 had their Black Friday campaigns live on Wednesday 3rd November versus only 14 on the same day in 2021.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG