Ecommerce January 2021 Update: UK Online Retail Statistics for December

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The Office for National Statistics found that in December 2020, the internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales ratio dropped from 36.2% in November to 31.3% in December.

This will be due to a myriad of factors, however the key factors here are that many people got their Christmas shopping done early in November last year. Also, the lockdown in November meant more people were forced to stay at home and many retailers had to close their doors. Despite the fact the end of December saw us enter stricter lockdowns across the UK, in the run-up to Christmas most of us were largely allowed to shop on the high street.

Overall retail sales volumes increased 0.3% when compared to November. This is an increase of 2.7% compared to pre-lockdown levels on February 2020.

Compared to December 2019, the YOY growth in the volume of retail sales increased 2.9%. Food stores had YOY growth of 4.4%, while non-store retailers report the largest YOY growth at 43.5%. Clothing retailers saw growth of 21.5% in December as they were closed in November.

Overall, the total online retailing values increased 46% in 2020 compared to the previous year. This is the biggest jump in annual growth since 2008.

When it comes to total retail sales, 2020 saw the quantity bought in retail sales decrease by 1.9%, which is the biggest annual drop since 1997. To compare, since 2012 the trend in quality bought in total retail sales has been relatively consistent, with a peak of 4.7% YOU growth in 2016.

The pandemic and lockdowns meant that the retail sector could not continue this trend, as non-essential retail could not trade as normal.

Below you can see the monthly and annual growth rates for the amount spent online and proportion of online sales for different sectors.

Total online sales were down 6.2% compared to the previous month. Household goods stores had the biggest fall of 27.9% month-on-month, but all online sectors had a decline. However, food stores reported a monthly increase in online sales of 2.6%, which will be largely down to new consumer habits carrying on from previous months which saw an uptake in the use of click-and-collect services.

When looking at the total online sales in the chart below, you can see that all retail sectors report increases in total online sales. The biggest increase came from food stores – an increase in online sales of 79.3% over the year.

2020 was certainly a year for the history books, and has arguably had the biggest impact on the daily lives of everyone around the globe in modern times.

While everyone is hopeful that within a matter of months we will be easing back into normality as more people receive vaccines, there is no doubt that how we shop has changed for good.

If you are looking to improve your online retail offering, get in touch with the Xanthos team who would be happy to discuss how we can help you grow.