Online sales continued to fall in February, new IMRG figures suggest. Sales fell by 4.1% in the month, compared to the previous year – when sales had fallen by 27.6% on the previous month. Last February’s decline was the biggest monthly fall ever report by the IMRG’s Online Retail Index, which has run since April 2020 and tracks online sales at more than 200 retailers.
February sales were also 7.8% lower than the previous month of January. This fall, says the IMRG, is typical for the time of year but comes after sales had already fallen by 29.4% between December and January.
Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, says: “Following the pandemic boom in online sales growth, volumes have fallen away for a period of almost two years now. At some point in 2023, even though growth was not possible in February against the biggest decline ever from February 2022, we still think growth will return even if it is very modest.
“The basket value shot up last year, and conversion collapsed accordingly, but those rates seem to have stabilised now so it’s just a question of when the apparently-temporary pandemic volume has fallen away sufficiently to enable retailers to really take stock of how to build up again.”
Online clothing sales fell by 8.7% in February, while gardening sales were 38.7% up on the previous year – when they had fallen by 37.4% year-on-year. Valentine’s Day led to week-on-week boosts for gifts (21.9%) and fragrance (+23.1%) in the week of February 5, while overall sales grew by 1.4% in the final week of the month, the week of February 19, compared to the previous week. That, says IMRG, represents the first week on week growth of the year to far.
The IMRG index now includes new subcategories of sports and outdoors (+6.3% month-on-month) and home and garden (+2.4% MOM).