Ecommerce sales in January were 28.7% lower than in December, the latest IMRG figures suggest. The month-on-month decline, says IMRG is sharper than usual for the time of year. In December 2022, ecommerce was already 12% lower than a year earlier, amid delivery disruption caused by factors including Royal Mail strikes.
Ecommerce was also 2.2% lower in January – the month of post-Christmas winter sales – than a year earlier, than in January 2022 – when sales had fallen by 22.5% on the previous pandemic-driven year, according to the IMRG Online Retail Index for the month.
Traffic fell at the same time, by 5.2% on last year when it had already fallen by 7.7% on the previous year – with a knock on effect on conversions. The average conversion rate for total sessions in January showed no change on a year earlier, at about 3.2% – but was significantly lower than in January 2021, when it was at 4.1%.
Spending reflected inflation, with the average basket value for the 200 pureplay and multichannel retailers that IMRG tracks for its research coming in at £130 in January – up from £113 a year earlier.
Gift sales saw the sharpest decline during the month, falling by 16.1% on last year, when they had declined by 14.2%. Clothing sales (-4.5%) were also lower than last January (+0.9%), although footwear sales (+4.7%) went in the opposite direction. Gardening was the standout performer, with sales up by 43.8% on January 2022, when they had fallen by 50.5%.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, says: “These disappointing, though not entirely unexpected, revenue and conversion rate results are in line with IMRG’s 2023 forecast for online retail, which expects year-on-year declines in total market revenue growth (-3%), home & garden and electricals categories (both -5%), health & beauty (-4%), gifts (-7%), and no growth is predicted for clothing.
“Shopper confidence is the key however, if there are any notable improvements in the economic situation we should see that conversion rate nudge up again as people feel a bit more secure in their financial situation, so can spend out on more discretionary purchases. From January’s results however, it feels a little way off yet.”