Online Retail & UK Ecommerce Update for May 2021

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April 2021 saw internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales drop down to 29.4%. In March this figure was 32.8%, but it is an understandable drop as restrictions are lifted and normality begins to return to the daily lives of shoppers.

In April 2020 this figure was 30.3% – a big jump up from March’s 22.1% as the nation and the world became overwhelmed by the pandemic and online retail sales shot through the roof.

So, this 29.4% figure is still a very large increase than what we would have had without a life-changing pandemic keeping us at home shopping online. April 2019 had a figure of 18.4%, up from 17.2% in 2018.

Overall, the retails sales volume grew in April 2021, increasing 9.2% on the previous month.

Retail sales volumes were actually 42.4% higher than the previous April in 2020.

All retail sectors had a fall in the proportion of online sales as the physical stores opened in April.

When it comes to online retail, you can see in the table below how online spending decreased by 5.6% in April compared to March. Food stores had the biggest decline with 11.4%. As the hospitality sector has opened, this will likely impact figures for other sectors including food. All sectors besides non-store retailers had declines in sales.

In the graph below, you can see how the retail sales volumes increased 9.2% in April, when comparing with the previous month.

The amount spent increased by 43.4% and the quantity bought increased by 42.4% when compared to the previous year. If you compare this to February 2020 when there were no lockdown measures in place, retail sales levels were up 9.9% and the quantity purchased was up 10.6%.

Non-store retailers were the sector with the largest growth in April, reporting 56% growth when compared to figures from April 2019. Automotive fuel retailers have sales lower than pre-pandemic levels – down 13.3% compared to 2 years ago due to less commuting and overall, less travelling.

Clothing stores look set to make a splash this summer, as clothing store sales volumes reported the sharpest growth of 69.4% in April compared to the previous month. Many people have been hermits for the past year, and with vaccines and normality on the horizon, a wardrobe refresh in physical clothing shops comes as somewhat of a novelty.

All sectors of non-food retail had monthly growth – department stores and household goods stores had continued growth which led to sales volumes that were above levels from before the pandemic – 19.7% compared to 7.6% in February 2020.

Overall this paints a very healthy picture of UK retail and online ecommerce. This summer will be pivotal in how we progress forwards as a nation, with much unnerve regarding variants still floating around.

We will see what the rest of 2021 brings to the online retail space, but as it stands the future looks very promising. It is still a great time to get started or perhaps shift your focus to online channels if you haven’t already.

If you would like to discuss the future of your retail business, please do get in touch with the team at Xanthos who would love to explore what opportunities are out there for your business.