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February shows signs of return to normal online retail spending patterns

9 Mar 2022

• Online retail sales growth dropped to -27% Year-on-Year (YoY) in February vs. January’s -24.4%
• The result fell well below the 3- (-17.5%), 6- (-16.1%), and 12-month (-8.0%) averages
• But it also compared to the highest growth ever recorded in February 2021, when sales soared by +60%
• Month-on-Month (MoM) growth was only down -7.7%, which suggests a return to normal spending, as the typical decrease for the time period is between -3-5%
• Clothing sales dropped by -4.6% overall, predominantly brought down by a decrease in accessories (-13.3%) and lingerie (-28.3%) spend

London UK – 9th March 2022: Despite February’s Year-on-Year (YoY) online retail growth dropping even lower than the previous month’s record, there were signs of a return to normal spending patterns within the broader set of results. That’s according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance for over 200 retailers.

While February’s dip to -27% means it replaces January 2022 (-24.4%) as the lowest ever month of growth, this figure isn’t as negative as it may seem, comparing as it does to a staggering +60% growth in February 2021 – the highest growth the index has recorded in its 22 years. In fact, measuring February 2020 against February 2022 shows that sales are actually +16.1% higher now than they were just before the pandemic began.

On a similar note, Month-on-Month (MoM) growth was also down only -7.7%, which is in line with the normal range of growth from January to February. Meanwhile, Average Basket Value (ABV) has risen for the first time since it reached a peak last August – climbing from £108 in January 2022 to £124 for February.

At a category level, womenswear and menswear appear to be doing well (+25.7% and +17% respectively), however, clothing as a whole was brought down by accessories and lingerie, which are still experiencing negative growth (-13.3% and -28.3%). Again, when compared to last year’s phenomenal figures, footwear, menswear, and womenswear were the only categories to record positive YoY growth, with home (-37.7%) and garden furniture (-34.1%) showing the biggest declines.

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant – Retail Lead for Analytics & AI, Capgemini: “This month, orders dropped further than revenue at -39% vs last year; an increase in basket value makes up the difference.  This is largely driven by home, garden and electrical categories which, despite negative YOY growth, continue to outperform pre pandemic levels.  The increase here is likely to be two-fold, the basket value increase could be an early indicator of price increase, particularly in electricals where scarcity of materials and supply chain disruption effects are more acute. However, research suggests that home improvement trends accelerated by lockdowns are continuing to create demand into 2022. Other trends and longer-term impacts are starting to be understood as we emerge from the pandemic, two years on from the initial lockdowns in March 2020. However, agility, resilience and adaptability will remain key to navigate disruptions, increased costs and rising inflation.”

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG: “The unprecedented disruption from the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 has made understanding the wild fluctuations in online growth difficult at times; +60% growth in February last year was followed by a record low this year, but overall online revenues are way up on where they were pre-pandemic. Now, for the first time since it began, the trading patterns between months have looked settled for a few consecutive months, which tells us the online / offline split is probably now set at the much-feted ‘new normal’. But, just as the pandemic seems to be abating in the UK, it looks like global events could potentially bring further economic and supply chain impacts. From the perspective of businesses, ‘normal’ in the 2020s is proving to mean turmoil and sudden shifts that are going to be difficult to navigate.”

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. www.imrg.org

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 325,000 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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