Record-breaking January sees highest online retail sales since 1st lockdown

Record-breaking January sees highest online retail sales since 1st lockdown
While the gap between multichannel and online-only has widened since the pandemic started, the latter surged to a pandemic high of 31.2% year-on-year.
// Online retail sales in January grew 74%, the highest rate of growth since first lockdown
// January’s results were a record-breaking 10x higher than those recorded in 2019
// It was also a strong month for mobile growth, with mobile commerce sales up 169.1%

Despite the ongoing lockdown measures across the UK, January saw the highest online sales since the pandemic began and highest sales on record for the month since 2008.

According to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, online retail sales in January skyrocketed by 74 per cent year-on-year and marked the highest rate of growth since March last year

When compared to 2019 figures, last month’s online retail sales were 10 times higher, and also the highest on record for January since 2008.


READ MORE: January retail sales fall as lockdown restrictions hammer stores


This boom in online sales was reflected across all categories, with health & beauty and beer & wine up 102 per cent year-on-year and 105 per cent year-on-year respectively.

Online electrical sales also remained extremely high at 206 per cent year-on-year, and clothing sales – which have suffered throughout each of the lockdowns – recorded their highest growth since 2017 at 22 per cent year-on-year.

Other notable spending trends in January include the surge in online-only retail sales, as consumers navigated the total shut down of the high street.

While the gap between multichannel and online-only has widened since the pandemic started, the latter surged to a pandemic high of 31.2 per cent year-on-year.

Similarly mobile commerce was up 169.1 per cent – the highest rise in spend since 2013.

“January typically sees more subdued sales and a drop off from Christmas trading, however the anticipation of a ‘return to normal’ met the reality of challenges in an ever evolving pandemic and customers once again turned to online shopping during the third national lockdown,” Capgemini managing consultant Lucy Gibbs said.

“Electrical online sales hit a new record for the sector at 206 per cent, potentially related to parents sourcing the technology needed to power home schooling and entertainment.

“Meanwhile, an uptick in clothing performance is promising for the sector which was hard hit last year, perhaps an anticipation of change in the new year boosted by sales and new season products.

“The gap between retailers who thrived last year and those who were struggling to survive is becoming clear as news of brand consolidations are hitting the headlines with a focus on online value over the physical estates; what this means for the high street is yet to be determined, however it is clear that digital interactions will further dominate the future shopping experience.”

IMRG insight director Andy Mulcahy said: “The big change in online volumes was recorded between March and April, when the month-on-month growth rate was up 37 per cent – it is usually flat between March and April.

“Since then the month-on-month rate has been much closer to where we’d expect it to be each month, which tells you that volume shifted online and has stayed there.

“Between December 2020 and January 2021 we’ve seen another big month-on-month gap appear, where the decline in volume following Christmas was only 20 per cent, whereas it is usually around 35 per cent.

“The introduction of the third lockdown, which is much stricter than the second, has served to supercharge online sales again for almost every product category – there were seven that recorded year-on-year growth of 170 per cent in January.”

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