Retailers have defied the odds and seen online sales grow by 0.7% year-on-year in November, says IMRG. This, says IMRG, is the first moment of positive growth in the IMRG/Capgemini eRetail Sales Index since April 2021, which tracks UK ecommerce sales from figures contributed by more than 300 retailers.
It saw traffic to online retail sites peak at +2.7% YoY in the week starting November 13. That, it says, was down to early Black Friday campaigns, particularly in the home, beauty, and electrical products category. But in the week starting November 20, sales fell by 6.1% YoY – suggesting many shoppers had already bought.
And while more retailers launched their Black Friday campaigns earlier this year, that did not make for increased revenue. IMRG says that when comparing the average revenue share across retailers that increased the length of their Black Friday campaigns by a week or more, there was very little difference between 2022 vs 2021, ranging between 1% and 3%.
Data from Black Friday week itself, starting on November 21 and ending on November 28 showed a slightly better than expected performance (+0.3% year-on-year), with sales of health and beauty (+3.8%), and electricals (+2.8%) both up, although clothing saw the biggest decline at -1.1%.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, says: “November came in above expectation, which meant the month as a whole saw overall demand increase. This was surprising when it has been so low for the whole year. It does feel like that volume may have been pulled forward, with people doing their Christmas shopping earlier this year to take advantage of discounting to a greater extent than normal. Online sales for the first week of December were down -8.1%, which supports that idea. The coming period will be defined by delivery problems too, with all carriers struggling with the additional volumes due to the Royal Mail strikes.”
Simon Binge, commerce senior manager at Capgemini, says: “Whilst any sign of YoY growth can be seen as good news, the context is likely to be a cause for concern for retailers. Early campaigning failed to stimulate demand over Black Friday week and, as the data suggests, may have contributed to the traffic declines witnessed in w/c November 20. Furthermore, if consumers have indeed brought forward their Christmas spend to capitalise on discounts, then retail could be in for a rough December, especially given the Royal Mail strike activity and its impact on consumer behaviour. If the net effect on sales for November and December ends up being negative, we’re likely to see significant activity in January as retailers fight to clear seasonal stocks and take share of an ever-shrinking consumer wallet.”