Online retail sales accounted for nearly half of all spend in December


Online retail sales skyrocketed 52.2 per cent throughout December as lockdown restrictions decimated in-store sales.

According to the latest data from Barclaycard, overall consumer spending throughout December dropped by 2.3 per cent compared to 2019 despite the staggering growth of online sales, marking the largest decline since June.

Supermarket shopping continued to be the most resilient sector throughout the month as shoppers stocked up on food ahead of Christmas and New Year Eve celebrations.

Physical supermarket shopping jumped 14.7 per cent, but this was eclipsed by an 88 per cent rise in online grocery spend.

This was reflected in the wider retail market, with in-store retail spending falling 8.3 per cent, but ecommerce sales jumping 52.2 per cent accounting for a whopping 46.8 per cent of all retail spend.

READ MORE: Online retail sales will top $2bn every day in November as ‘Cyber Week’ becomes ‘Cyber Month’

Aside from grocery sales specialist retailers like toy stores and gift shops, alongside fashion retailers, saw significant online growth, increasing 61.9 per cent and 34 per cent respectively.

Local shops also enjoyed a boost, with specialist food and drink retailers like butchers recording a 43.7 per cent rise.

Conversely retailers largely reliant on footfall such as department stores saw a drop of 15.2 per cent.

“Changing restrictions continue to have an impact on our spending habits – which was particularly acute across the high-street and hospitality sectors in December, with restaurants, pubs and bars hardest hit during a low-key festive season in the majority of the UK,” Barclaycard’s head of consumer products Raheel Ahmed said.

“As a result of further restrictions, online grocery spend surged and fuel declined as the majority cancelled their plans and stayed home for the holidays.

“Additionally, many still continued to support their local shops where possible, spending more time in their local community. Small businesses have continued to remain agile to these changing consumer habits – with many going online for the first time. From dog walking services to subscriptions of weekly meal kits, small businesses are exploring new ways to reach their customer base.”

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