Online sales hit 10-year high as multichannel retailers take lion’s share of growth

Multichannel retailers have seen their sales skyrocket 35 per cent in the UK during lockdown, far outpacing their online-only counterparts.

In April, the UK’s first full month under lockdown, online sales jumped 23.8 per cent year-on-year to the highest level in 10 years, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index.

Multichannel retailers, which have both online and offline offerings, emerged as the clear winners during the month seeing sales rise more than four times as fast as pureplay ecommerce sites, which saw an 8.3 per cent jump in sales.

“April’s data shows that demand is following a very logical pattern – with stores closed, people who would usually shop in physical locations have no choice but to switch online,” IMRG’s strategy and insight director Andy Mulcahy said.

“Hence it is the multichannel retailers who are securing the very strong growth at the moment, though whether it will be enough to entirely offset the loss of sales from those stores seems unlikely. This is only true for some categories though; even with stores closed, online growth for multichannel clothing retailers is still down 17.5 per cent.”

READ MORE: Online sales see “Black Friday” levels of growth thanks to fashion boost

Clothing sales saw an overall drop of 23.8 per cent from last April, with footwear and menswear sales seeing particularly sharp declines of 31.1 per cent and 33.5 per cent respectively.

Conversely the hot weather drove a whopping 288 per cent jump in gardening sales, while electrical sales also rose 102 per cent as people stocked up on items enabling them to work from home.

Capgemini’s managing consultant Lucy Gibbs added: “We are also starting to see a differential by retail tier, with mid-market losing out to budget retailers, a trend to watch as consumers seek value for money in uncertainty, however, on the other hand we are likely to see consumers looking for brand trust and quality.

“This can result in a squeeze in the mid-tier where appealing to both needs has been traditionally harder to balance. Retailers will need to listen to their customers, and find new ways to become increasingly transparent, flexible and innovative in order to navigate the rocky and uncertain road ahead.”

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