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Online retail experienced its worst month of sales growth ever in November

10 Dec 2021
  • Online retail sales fell by -19.8% Year-on-Year (YoY) last month – the lowest recorded growth in 21 years of the Index
  • Though Month-on-Month sales grew by +40.4%, this was significantly lower than the +50% growth that is expected for this time of year
  • November’s result was slightly below the 3-month (-14.97%) and 6-month (-12.64%) averages, but heavily so for the 12-month average (+6.30%)
  • Every category, bar clothing, saw double-digit negative growth

LONDON UK – 10 December 2021: As the threat of Christmas lockdown drove consumers out of their houses to socialise and shop last month, online retail sales recorded their lowest ever growth – falling by a staggering -19.8% Year-on-Year (YoY). That is according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers. While this does compare to a strong November 2020 (+36.2%), the Month-on-Month (MoM) figures were equally negative – showing a rise of only 40.4% versus the +50% that would typically be expected for the October to November timeframe.

Digging into the results further, there is evidence that consumers are both buying less often and spending less when they do, with the conversion rate down by -20% YoY to +3.3% and average basket value (ABV) falling to £123 (versus its 2021 peak of £149). With high street sales up, it is perhaps unsurprising that of the retailer types, multichannel brands suffered the most – with their sales plummeting by -23.4% compared to only -13.4% for online only retailers.

Meanwhile, every category bar clothing saw double-digit negative growth – with gifts in particular down a huge -46.4%. In a month where previously Black Friday spend would be focused on electricals, that category recorded the second lowest result at -29.2%.

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant – Retail Lead for Analytics & AI, Capgemini: The drop in online sales this year is not unexpected however the Month-on-Month figures suggest that spending overall has been even more subdued. Multichannel retailers were hit the hardest, down -23.4%, but online only retailers also suffered, down -13.4% due to the drop in overall traffic online.

“While a return to in-person shopping has taken a large share of the spend, other factors such as supplier shortages and delivery disruption have also caused retailers to spread and dilute some of the offers, which could be behind the decrease in conversion by 20% across November.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG: “In retail we are often prone to focusing on the negatives, but there is no escaping that November’s performance was very poor. The most concerning thing is that traffic was the problem, shoppers were just not visiting retailers’ sites in their usual volumes. To an extent, that could be explained by people taking to big high street locations again, but the next few weeks will be very interesting in that respect. There does seem to be an attitude of ‘getting it in before we get locked down’ at the moment, but from next week people will not want to go anywhere to avoid having to isolate over Christmas. We will, from a retail perspective, be in a lockdown in all but name which will really skew trading figures.”



The IMRG Capgemini Sales Index was adjusted in August 2020 to reflect updated historic figures from our retail panel. Previously reported results have been recalibrated to provide a more accurate view of the market index.

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, including in-store.

*Please note from January 2020 the Index no longer includes data from the travel sector

About IMRG

For over 20 years, IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) has been the voice of e-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 indexes provide in-depth intelligence on online sales, mobile sales, delivery trends and over 40 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 300,000 team members in nearly 50 countries. With its strong 50 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 2020 global revenues of €16 billion.

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