Online retail sales in November rocketed back up to +39 per cent year-on-year, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of more than 200 retailers.
Companies such as Gloucester-headquartered cookware retailer ProCook, which sells online as well as having a chain of physical stores, and leading Warwickshire-based online retailer UK Flooring Direct both reported record sales on Black Friday.
With high street stores closed and Black Friday discounts running throughout the month, this represented a 58 per cent growth from October as well as an increase on the 3-month rolling average of 34 per cent
It’s been a tough year for independent retailers, but an increasing number are investing in online retail, aided by organisations such as Gloucester-based Happerley, which launched a new online marketplace for honest food and drink producers. ShopHapperley hopes to change the way we shop for food and drink, focusing on food provenance and transparency when it comes to ingredients.
Worcester-based home and gifts retailer Cornucopia, opened a Trouva boutique online during lockdown, with owners Clare and Hannah Bishop taking products home from the shop and turning their garage into a distribution centre. This enabled them to focus on distributing products to customers all over the world as well as giving them the confidence and incentive to open their own online shop. The business is celebrating winning has the accolade of Britain’s Best Small Shop of 2020.
Black Friday drove significant sales in electricals, up nearly 73 per cent, 72.8% and as people continued to spend time outside due to lockdown restrictions, garden sales were also up an incredible 127 per cent, year on year.
Perhaps in a nod to the upcoming festive season, another high performing category was homeware & decorations, which was up 154 per cent.
Footwear was the only category to see declining growth (down almost 10 per cent)
Lucy Gibbs, Managing Consultant – Retail Insight, at consultancy Capgemini: “This year has seen a shift in consumer demand in product categories; electricals and home continued to outperform in November, boosted by entertainment releases and the outlook of winter nights ahead. There is no doubt that the significance of digital-led shopping experiences and habits are here to stay.”
Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director, at retail analysts IMRG, added: “Although the rate of growth in November was lower than we’ve seen at other times this year, you have to bear in mind that November volumes are far, far higher than over the spring and summer. For this reason, it was actually a huge month for online growth, especially since it built on a strong rate of growth in 2019. It was also the highest November growth rate since 2007 – and there have been some huge Novembers since Black Friday arrived in the UK.
“The positive news for retailers is that the actual monetary spend was the highest we’ve ever recorded in our index – shoppers started spending early in November and continued to do so right the way through the month.”
Capgemini has also revealed the second of its holiday trends research, which shows that UK consumers are displaying caution in their spending this holiday season. The study has found that 76 per cent of UK consumers have done less holiday shopping than usual.
While spending might be down, consumers are embracing new shopping formats. 50 per cent have shopped more online this festive season than ever before, while almost a quarter say they have purchased more locally produced goods than in previous years. And the online shopping trend is set to continue. While more than a quarter of consumers surveyed had never shopped online before the pandemic, half are now more comfortable with this format and say they will shop online more in future.
The outlook for in-store shopping is also positive. While the preference for in-store shopping on Black Friday dropped from 39 per cent last year to 28 per cent this year according to Capgemini’s first holiday season survey, findings from the second study, which focuses solely on consumer attitudes, suggest shoppers are missing the in-store experience.
62 per cent of consumers would like to return to their previous shopping habits once the pandemic is over, with 64 per cent stating that they miss shopping in-store. But consumers don’t want the innovations that retailers introduced during the pandemic to be forgotten. New technologies which were brought in to mitigate the risk of COVID-19, such as contactless payments and self-service kiosks, encouraged 42 per cent of shoppers to venture in-store.