Covid-19: Shift to eCommerce continues despite physical store reopenings

Online retail sales increased 41.3% year-on-year in the week commencing 14 June, when non-essential retail stores began reopening, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail index. This represents the second strongest year-on-year growth rate measured by the index since lockdown measures were introduced. eCommerce sales also increased by 1.8% week-on-week over this period.

The analysis, which tracks the digital performance of over 200 retailers, additionally revealed that multichannel traders increased online sales 71% year-on-year, which is the highest growth ever recorded for this group.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG commented: “It seems that all the fanfare around high streets opening again did spur an increase in sales activity, as people perhaps start to feel things are returning to something a bit closer to ‘normal’, but what that normal is going to be received some clarity.

“The bulk of that activity remains focused online, with shoppers visiting stores in much lower numbers but with a clearly focused intention to complete a purchase, as opposed to just browsing. It’s early days and the 2m rule is set to be reduced to 1m+ soon, but a revealing indication of how shopper behaviour is now structured perhaps.”

The category which saw the strongest boost in online sales was home, garden and electricals, which increased 114% year-on-year and 99.9% week-on-week. Health and beauty sales grew 70.5% year-on-year but fell 2.5% week-on-week.

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant, retail insight at Capgemini, added: “Multichannel retailers saw online sales go from strength to strength despite a hypothesis that the ability to spend in reopened stores would decrease the reliance on online shopping. As lockdown eases in an attempt to shift back towards the former pre-Covid-19 norm, the question remains which consumer behaviours and trends will return, and which will have changed for the long term? Have consumers shopping habits irreversibly swung towards online shopping rather than in-store shopping?”