For all the tumult of the past few years, online sales have actually grown by a similar amount that might have been expected if there was no pandemic, which drove huge volumes of orders online due to the lockdowns, as per IMRG’s analysis.
The clothing category had a different experience than the other sectors in the index, as it hardly recorded any growth during the pandemic year of 2020, but has made up for it subsequently.
UK’s overall online retail market in 2022 increased by 17 per cent compared to 2019, which, averaged out over those three years, represents an average rate of growth of 5.7 per cent per year—firmly in line with the pre-pandemic growth rate, according to IMRG. The clothing category is currently running at a growth of 25 per cent ahead of its 2019 value.
This analysis is drawn from the IMRG Online Retail Index, which tracks online sales for 200 retailers on a sample size of £23 billion in 2022.
In 2019, the year before the pandemic, growth for the total online market was 5 per cent year-on-year (YoY). In 2020, the year when the lockdowns first started, it rocketed up to 35 per cent; a rate of increase so vast that many retailers struggled to cope with such a sudden upturn in volume. Since then, growth has been negative each month since April 2021 (with the exception of November 2022, when growth was less than 1 per cent) and 2022 as a whole was down 10.5 per cent YoY. The comparison of non-lockdown against lockdown periods has made it hard to determine how things have actually changed.
“From an online retail value perspective, we might ask ‘pandemic, what pandemic?’ There was a train of thought that suggested existing trends had been accelerated by a decade in the space of a few weeks, but it has become apparent that we are creatures of habit and change simply doesn’t happen at that scale, at that speed. It is probably fair to say that the market is a bit better off than might have been expected if there was no pandemic; the rate of growth had been generally coming down over a period of years so it could have run at lower than 5 per cent per year otherwise possibly,” said Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG.
Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DP)