Record-breaking January sees highest online sales since pandemic began

Last month recorded the highest online sales since the pandemic began at +74% Year-on-Year (YoY) – and the highest January sales on record since 2008. That’s according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of more than 200 retailers.

This boom in sales was reflected across all categories, with health & beauty and beer & wine sales up +102% YoY and +105% YoY respectively. Perhaps in a nod to parents stocking up on learning-from-home essentials, electrical sales remained extremely high at +206% YoY. As January discounts rolled out widely even clothing sales, which have suffered throughout each of the lockdowns, recorded their highest growth since 2017 at +22% YoY.

Other notable spending trends in January include the surge in online-only retail sales, as consumers navigated the total shut down of the high street. While the gap between multichannel and online only has widened since the viral outbreak, the latter surged to a pandemic high of +31.2% YoY. Similarly mobile commerce was up +169.1% – the highest rise in spend since 2013.

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant – Retail Insight, Capgemini: “75% Year-on-Year growth is the highest we’ve seen in any month across the whole of the pandemic and almost 10 times the growth in January last year. January typically sees more subdued sales and a drop off from Christmas trading; however the anticipation of a ‘return to normal’ met the reality of challenges in an ever evolving pandemic and customers once again turned to online shopping during the third national lockdown. Electrical online sales hit a new record for the sector at +206%, potentially related to parents sourcing the technology needed to power home schooling and entertainment. Meanwhile, an uptick in clothing performance is promising for the sector which was hard hit last year, perhaps an anticipation of change in the new year boosted by sales and new season products.  

“The gap between retailers who thrived last year and those who were struggling to survive is becoming clear as news of brand consolidations are hitting the headlines with a focus on online value over the physical estates; what this means for the high street is yet to be determined, however it is clear that digital interactions will further dominate the future shopping experience.”

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