Strongest ever online growth for store retailers as High Street re-opens

With COVID-19’s long-term impact on consumer behaviour still unclear, the week that High Street stores reopened saw online retail sales surge by 41.3 per cent year-on-year and 1.8 per cent week-on-week.

This marks the second strongest year-on-year 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 15 June, multichannel retailers recorded online sales growth of four per cent week-on-week. Compared to 2019, this represented a 71 per cent increase – 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 and garden and electricals – up 114.7 per cent and 99.9 per cent year-on-year respectively.

Health and beauty sales also rose by 70.5 per cent year-on-year, but were down by -2.5 per cent week-on-week. Meanwhile, despite some steep discounting, online clothing sales plateaued at zero per cent growth week-on-week.

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant for retail insight at Capgemini, commented that multichannel retailers saw online sales go from strength to strength despite a hypothesis that the ability to spend in re-opened stores would decrease the reliance on online shopping.

“Right now, it may be too early to unpick the patterns from consumers’ pent up demand being released by government’s decision to relax these measures, alongside an increased drive for consumer spending; it appears moving retail front of mind is also potentially causing a halo effect in digital sales.”

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, added: “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 two metre rule is set to be reduced to one metre soon, but a revealing indication of how shopper behaviour is now structured perhaps.”

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