Online sales growth at 10-year high during April
UK e-retail sales show a staggering 23.8% year-on-year growth in April, a 10-year high, as highstreets across the UK remained deserted as they went through their first full month of lockdown. According to figures released by the IMRG, this dramatic increase represents a month-on-month rebound of 28.2% compared to the poorer results recorded in March, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck and sales were disrupted.
The figures demonstrated a “seismic shift in purchasing patterns“ with consumers adapting to life under Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
When we look at what was driving sales per category, there was an unprecedented growth in online gardening sales, at 288%, helped by the unusually high temperatures in April. There was also 102% year-on-year growth for electrical sales last month, likely due to people working from home and the need for more in-home entertainment during lockdown. Another area that saw substantial growth in this period was in health and beauty, at 82%. This could be influenced by hair and beauty salons being closed during the lockdown.
It wasn’t good news all around, as clothing sales fell for the second month running. In April this fell by 23.8% following a 23.1% decline in March. Footwear and menswear were hit particularly hard, sales were down by 31.1% and 33.5%, respectively.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG stated: “April’s data shows that demand is following a very logical pattern – with stores closed, people who would usually shop in physical locations have no choice but to switch online. Hence it is the multichannel retailers who are securing the very strong growth at the moment, though whether it will be enough to entirely offset the loss of sales from those stores seems unlikely. When that demand will return is a big question for clothing retailers. If they reopen stores – and take their staff out of furlough, bringing all the costs back into the business – but their customers don’t return quickly, there could be a very difficult period coming indeed.”
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Clothing retailers will hope they can begin to reopen their physical stores from June, albeit under different shopping conditions to prevent the risk of increased pandemic spread. IMRG noted that this surge in eCommerce was driven “overwhelmingly” by multichannel retailers, which saw online sales increase by 35% in April. For online only traders, there was a more modest growth of 8.3%.
Nicola Meinders, Global Marketing Manager at Jonckers stated “It’s interesting to consider that multi-channel retailers (selling both off and online sales) grew quickest during the pandemic, as their strong brands are now needing to be brought online at pace, to ensure that they remain top-of-mind and maintain customer loyalty. In time, this may present even more benefits, as they are able to reach a more global audience, with languages offering an opportunity to reach more shoppers.
Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant – Retail Insight, Capgemini: “COVID-19 has reshaped consumer spending patterns and shopping habits, which has been accentuated by the significant online growth in April. Customers to become accustomed to turning to online to fulfil shopping needs as non-essential retailers remained closed.”
Silke Zschweigert, CRO from Jonckers concluded “As the easing of the lockdown starts in many regions of the world, there still seems to be an avoidance of crowded spaces and public transport where possible. It remains to be seen, yet there are positive signs that online retail growth will remain strong, as people have reduced their outdoor shopping activities and are now more used to online shopping from home. I believe that having an online shop – in addition to a physical shop is probably going to be the new normal.“
IMRG: The data was taken from the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of more than 200 retailers on a monthly basis
About the ‘IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index’
The IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which was started in April 2000, tracks ‘online sales’, which we define as ‘transactions completed fully, including payment, via interactive channels’ from any location, including in-store.
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