As the UK plunged into a second lockdown, online retail sales in November rocketed back up to +39% Year-on-Year (YoY), according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.
With high street stores closed and Black Friday discounts running throughout the month, this represented a +58% growth from October as well as an increase on the 3-month rolling average of 34% (though not on the 6- and 12- month averages of 45% and 40% respectively).
From a category perspective, and despite a successful year to date, Black Friday still drove significant sales in electricals, which were up +72.8% (YoY). As people continued to spend time outside due to lockdown restrictions, garden sales were also up a surprising +127% (YoY).
Perhaps in a nod to the upcoming festive season, another high performing category was homeware & decorations, which was up +154% (YoY). After October’s spike in sales, however, footwear fell once more to -9.1% (YoY) and was the only category to see declining growth.
Other notable spending trends in November included a spike in mobile commerce sales, up +110% (YoY), and evidence of consumers buying in bulk, with the Average Basket Value (ABV) totalling £98 – that’s compared to £75 in November 2019.
Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant – Retail Insight,Capgemini: “The first few weeks in November were particularly strong, as retailers started their discounts significantly earlier than previous years. The second lockdown meant that high street doors were closed once again across England, and the focus online meant that retailers needed to spread the demand across the period to cope with peak sales.
“This year has seen a shift in consumer demand in product categories; electricals and home continued to outperform in November, boosted by entertainment releases and the outlook of winter nights ahead. Increased spending over the holiday period may also provide relief for some retailers from customers who have been able to save throughout lockdowns; we have seen that the basket value was 30% higher this November than in 2019. As we move into December, online and operations will be a differential in the run up to Christmas and although spending patterns remain unpredictable for the foreseeable future, there is no doubt that the significance of digital-led shopping experiences and habits are here to stay.”
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG: “Although the rate of growth in November was lower than we’ve seen at other times this year, you have to bear in mind that November volumes are far, far higher than over the spring and summer. For this reason, it was actually a huge month for online growth, especially since it built on a strong rate of growth in 2019. It was also the highest November growth rate since 2007 – and there have been some huge Novembers since Black Friday arrived in the UK.
“The positive news for retailers is that the actual monetary spend was the highest we’ve ever recorded in our index – shoppers started spending early in November and continued to do so right the way through the month. It has led, as expected, to some delivery delays. One area of concern will be the fact that sales growth online remained very strong (+52%) in week one of December, so the volumes are still incredibly high as we approach Christmas, causing further pressure for carriers.”