Covid-19: IMRG presents trends in UK online retail

IMRG has displayed some notable trends in regard to impact of the Covid-19 epidemic on eCommerce in the UK last week (22-28 March), following the closure of many physical stores as a result of the government’s lockdown measures on 23 March. The figures demonstrate an upsurge in online shopping activity during this period.

IMRG has been tracking the online sales of 300 different retailers. For the week commencing 22 March, there was overall a year-on-year online sales growth of +0.6%, which compared to -0.2% in the previous week.

Overall online traffic for retailers increased enormously that week, with IMRG showing that daily traffic was up around 10-15% daily compared to just a month ago. In the UK’s grocery sector, online shopping has continued apace, with 10x the traffic for some companies compared to four weeks ago.

Areas related to home living have also seen a surge in demand last week. These are categories such as electrical items, sports equipment, gardening, pet food, children’s toys, and alcohol. However, in other parts of retail, such as fashion, there has been a huge drop off.

Matthew Furneaux, global commercial director at Loqate, commented: “I think it would be wrong to categorise any of this as a silver lining, we remain in a pretty dismal place both at a human level and also as a retail sector. But there are some interesting things happening as we go along and for some of those retailers, hopefully cause for a little bit of optimism as they go through this difficult period.”

Also reported in the webinar was the marked increase in retailers who have suspended their online trading in the last week, growing from 1% by 20 March to 6% by 27 March. This is where it has not been possible to ensure the safety of employees working in physical locations, such as warehouses.

Nevertheless, it was noted that in recent days, some retailers who suspended their online operations have now reinstated them, having made changes to their working practices. “I think that will help keep things moving and keep the sector supporting its customers throughout this difficult period,” added Furneaux.