Online retail sales slip in June as shoppers return to high street

Online retail sales slid last month as customer spending was diverted back to the high street following the reopening of stores, according to new figures.

The IMRG Capgemini online retail index for June revealed a 14.1% slump in online sales for the month, against the same period last year.

It represented the steepest drop in the history of the index, for the second month in a row.

The report, which tracks the online sales of 200 major retailers, revealed a 4.6% decline against May’s figure as Covid-boosted online spending habits retracted slightly.

Chris Long, director of retail consulting at Capgemini, said: “The steep fall is a strong indication that consumer confidence is growing to get back out on the high street as lockdown eases and the vaccine rollout continues.

“We can expect this shift in spend between online and the high street to continue, with retailers grappling demand swings and stock challenges across channels to ensure availability for consumers as their shopping habits change.

“Looking ahead it’s going to be interesting to see how July 19 ‘Freedom Day’ impacts online spend. Although most restrictions will be eased for the high street, there is a potential for an increase in self-isolation numbers from track and trace, which could slow the decline in online demand as many rely on home delivery.”

The data showed that almost all retail categories saw declines, apart from clothing, beer and wine, and garden items.

England’s exploits at Euro 2020 helped to drive strong beer and wine sales, which jumped by 52% in the last week of the month, which included England’s victory over Germany.

Average Basket Volumes (ABV) were also significantly higher than this time last year despite the reduction in activity.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said: “Growth rates are confusing at the moment – historically low due to tough year-on-year comparators and easing of restrictions, though volumes remain very high – but some metrics are more reliable, such as the overall ABV.

“While there was hardly any increase in ABV between 2019 and 2020, it has shot up across 2021 so far; in June 2021 it was 62% higher than June 2020.”