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UK: online retail growth in freefall in May

Jun 18, 2022 United Kingdom
UK: online retail growth in freefall in May
The growth of online retail sales fell by 8.7% year-on-year in May in the UK, despite being measured against a negative performance in May 2021 (-6%), as reported by the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks online sales for 200 retailers
May’s results also represented a -0.6% dip month-on-month against April.

Despite widespread discounting, the Average Basket Value (ABV) has actually been rising notably since January 2022, reaching a new all-time high of 151 British pounds. This is likely due to a number of factors including inflation, customers ordering multiple items at once in order to avoid repeat delivery fees, and a general preference for higher quality items to avoid having to buy again in the near future. Website traffic was also up by 8% Year-on-Year (YoY), though retailers are reporting lengthy purchase cycles as consumers sit in the consideration stage for longer.

At a category level, the majority tracked in the Index reported negative growth, again often against negative figures for the same period last year. Among those, the categories seeing the worst performance were health and beauty (-28%) and home and garden (-23%). On a better note, clothing continues to see strong performance – with sales rising by +14% overall; +18% for womenswear and +12% for menswear.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director, IMRG commented: “There’s no dressing it up, May’s performance was pretty awful online. April’s results suggested growth might be flat, but it is clear now that the economic situation is having a deep impact on demand; if it wasn’t for the Jubilee, which produced a slightly better week than the others, the decline might have been double-digit against negative growth for the same month last year. The one bright area is clothing, where growth was strong this month against +13.5% in May 2021. It seems to be a category making up for lost time, following almost flat growth in 2020; could be that it is now simply benefiting from the increased number of people shopping online, combined with a general sense among the UK public that the pandemic is over and they can go out as they please again.”

Image credits: Christin Hume on Unsplash

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