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UK Online Retail Sales Report summary

January 2021

Period covered: Period covered: 29 November 2020 – 02 January 2021

Online Retail Sales rose by 45.8% in December, value and non-seasonally adjusted, year-on-year, according to ONS. Retail sales rose by 0.8% in December, year-on-year, according to Retail Economics. Average weekly online sales were £3,028m in December, according to ONS. Online accounted for 31.3% of total retail sales in December, value and non-seasonally adjusted, according to ONS. Online Clothing & Footwear rose by 47.1% in December, year-on-year, according to ONS.

UK Online Retail Overview – December 2020

Online retail sales rose by 45.8% year-on-year (value and non-seasonally adjusted) in December, against a 12% rise in the same month a year ago. A slowdown on the previous month resulted in online sales growth underperforming the three-month average of 62.1%.

ONS Online Retail Sales – December 2020

Online sales growth rose by 45.8% in December year-on-year, (value, non-seasonally adjusted), against a 6.7% fall a year ago. Sales growth outperformed the three-month of 62.1% but remained above the 12-month average of 45.1%. Sales growth was impacted by the 53-week trading period this year compared with 52 weeks in 2019. This meant Black Friday was included in December 2019.

BRC Online Retail Sales – December 2020

Online non-food sales surged by 44.8% December, against a 6.7% rise last year, according to the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor. This was only a slight slowdown on the previous month. The BRC estimates that in the three months to December, instore non-food declined by 14.4%.

BDO Non-Store Retail Sales – December 2020

Total non-store LFLs rose by 62.0% in December year-on-year, against a 24.5% rise a year earlier. By comparison in-store LFLs fell by 31.4% year-on-year against a 0.8% rise a year earlier. Sales growth was strongest in the first half of the month with growth of 78.0% and 67.7% in weeks one and two respectively.

IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index – December 2020

The IMRG-Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reported online sales growth rose by 37.0% year-on-year, in December. For 2020 as a while, IMRG reported that online retail sales growth rose by 36%, the strongest rise since 2007 and significantly ahead of their forecast at the start of 2020 of a 7.8% rise. December’s rise was broadly in line with the three-month and 12-month averages.

Office for National Statistics – December 2020

Online food sales growth remained strong in December, rising by 92.5% year-on-year, compared with a 6.7% fall in the same month a year ago. The slowdown on the previous month meant online sales growth underperformed the three-month average of 100.1%, but remained above the 12-month average.

Online Non-Food sales rose by 62.9% in December year-on-year, against a 8.2% rise a year ago. The slowdown on the previous month resulted in online sales growth falling below the three-month average of 80.7% while remaining above the 12-month average of 52.0%. Within the Non-Food category, Department Stores (+90.5%) recorded the strongest performance.

Online Clothing & Footwear sales growth rose by 47.1% in December year-on-year, against a 1.3% fall in the same month a year ago – the second strongest performance in 2020. Sales growth outperformed the three-month and 12-month averages of 45.2% and 20.6% respectively. Online sales of Clothing & Footwear accounted for 33.7% of total retail sales in December.

Online Household Goods sales growth rose by a modest 34.0% in December, year-on-year against a strong performance a year ago when sales growth rose by 21.1%. It should be noted that sales growth was distorted by the timing of Black Friday which was included in the December trading period in 2019 versus November in 2020. Resultantly, sales growth significantly underperformed the three-month and 12-month averages.

Online Department Stores sales growth rose by 90.5% in December, year-on-year, against a 1.5% decline a year ago. This was a slowdown from the record high last month which resulted in sales growth falling below the three-month average of 110.3%.

Online sales within the Other Non-Food category (which includes Jewellery, Gardening, Health & Beauty, and some Electricals) rose by 75.3%% year-on-year in December, against a strong comparison a year ago when sales growth rose by 25.9%. This slowdown, driven by seasonal distortions resulted in sales growth slowing on the three-month average of 98.7%.

Non-Store retailing (a good indication of pure online retailers) sales rose by 25.1% in December, year-on-year, against a 19.3% rise a year ago – the lowest growth rate since April 2020. Pure online retailers continue to underperform multichannel retailers with sales growth two-fifths that of their multi-channel counterparts.

 

Online performance: Nov/Dec 2020 vs. Nov/Dec 2019

Source: ONS

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  • Online market size estimates (£m)
  • Online spending forecasts (£m)
  • Online spending forecasts (£m)
  • Online vs. Store analysis
  • Online sales growth by category (£m)
  • External data summaries: ONS, BRC, KPMG, BDO, IMRG-Capgemini
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