The much-talked-about early Christmas shopping rush doesn’t seem to have materialised (yet) online, the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index showed on Wednesday.
UK online retail sales fell 11.2% year-on-year last month, only a slight improvement on September’s 12.5% fall. That said, October’s result comfortably beat the three-month and six-month averages.
But the Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, showed a month-on-month surge of 11.2%, which proved to be the highest rise since the high streets reopened in April. This performance falls in line with pre-pandemic patterns for this time of year.
And at a category level, Clothing did well with a 7.5% rise. Health & beauty remained the worst-hit category with a fall of 23.3%.
The average basket value (ABV) in October remained high at £131 (though down from its August peak of £149). But the conversion rate fell further (+2.9% in October 2021 vs +4.1% in October 2020), suggesting ongoing issues with stock levels, due to the pressure on the supply chain.
Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant – Retail Lead for Analytics & AI at Capgemini, said: “October online spending was more subdued than expected this year. Stock shortages and supply chain disruptions gave speculation that customers might start shopping earlier than usual, however this may also be having a negative effect. Conversion is down across the board, with stock-outs and lack of stock depth contributing to customers leaving the funnel.
“Consumer confidence has also dropped for a third month in a row as financial concerns build due to increasing inflation and interest rates and climbing covid rates, providing a cautious backdrop ahead of the peak season this year. Campaigns for black Friday are ready and waiting, however will these be enough to draw the share of wallet this season?”
Meanwhile Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, added: “The potential for Christmas shopping to get under way early this year did not really materialise in October, but it is evident that retailers are certainly trying to get it moving in early November. Of the 317 retailers IMRG is tracking every day, 25 had their Black Friday campaigns live on 3 November versus only 14 on the same day in 2021.”