Online retail growth in freefall in May

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LONDON UK – 13th June 2022: Online retail sales growth fell -8.7% Year-on-Year (YoY) in May 2022, despite being measured against a negative performance in May 2021 (-6%), as trading conditions continue to be very tough. Bucking a trend for positive growth between the two months, May’s results also represented a -0.6% dip Month-on-Month (MoM) against April. That’s according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks online sales for 200 retailers.

Breaking the month down, there was some variation in performance by week, with week one recording the lowest growth at -10.9% YoY, whilst week three was almost positive at -0.3% YoY. This may have been a Jubilee boost – with people purchasing patriotic clothing and other items in advance of the bank holiday – without that, performance might have been even worse.

Despite widespread discounting, the Average Basket Value (ABV) has actually been rising notably since January 2022, reaching a new all-time high of £151. 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 8% 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: “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.”

Bhavesh Unadkat, Head of Brand and Content, frog, part of Capgemini Invent: “Digging into May’s negative result, a closer look at where consumers are willing to spend money offers some interesting insights. Countering what you might expect as pockets tighten, the sales performance of budget retailers actually plummeted by -15% last month – with luxury retailers also experiencing a fall, although less dramatically at -3.6%. In fact, it was only the mid-market retailers who saw any type of growth at +0.5%. With less disposable income to hand, this definitely lends weight to the speculation that consumers are seeking out longer-lasting quality in their goods.”

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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.

About IMRG

For over 20 years, IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) has been the voice of online retail in the UK. We are a membership community comprising businesses of all sizes – multichannel and pureplay, SME and multinational, and solution providers to industry. We support our members through a range of activities – including market tracking and insight, benchmarking and best practice sharing. Our indices provide in-depth intelligence on online sales, mobile sales, delivery trends and over 80 additional KPIs. Our goal is to ensure our members have the information and resources they need to succeed in rapidly-evolving markets – both domestically and internationally.

About Capgemini

Capgemini is a global leader in partnering with companies to transform and manage their business by harnessing the power of technology. The Group is guided everyday by its purpose of unleashing human energy through technology for an inclusive and sustainable future. It is a responsible and diverse organisation of over 340,000 team members in more than 50 countries. With its strong 55-year heritage and deep industry expertise, Capgemini is trusted by its clients to address the entire breadth of their business needs, from strategy and design to operations, fuelled by the fast evolving and innovative world of cloud, data, AI, connectivity, software, digital engineering and platforms. The Group reported in 2021 global revenues of €18 billion.

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