Menswear recovers online in September but footwear stays weak
Online retail continued its relentless rise in the UK last month with sales up 42% year-on-year and 5.53% compared to August. As the early summer surge evened out, the annual increase dipped slightly below the six- and three-month averages, but was still strong.
And there was some good news for fashion within this. Following months of poor sales, menswear was up 20.5%, against a year-to-date average fall of 10.3%. However, as has been the case for much of the pandemic period, footwear fared poorly with a 6.9% drop. Overall, fashion sales rose 7.9%, perhaps reflecting interest in the new season’s deliveries.
The figures came from the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.
It said multichannel retailers continued to significantly outperform their online-only counterparts, achieving growth of 62.7% vs 19.6%. This is clear evidence not only of consumers continuing to patronise their favourite physical stores via their webstores, but also of those physical stores ensuring that their e-commerce ops are functioning strongly.
The e-sales figures came as lockdown restrictions were reintroduced throughout September. But In comparison to the spending surges seen during phase one of the lockdown, online sales returned to patterns that would be expected this time of year.
The month saw steady seasonal online sales growth but some categories did better than expected and IMRG said health & beauty sales grew by 78.5%.
Andy Mulcahy, Strategy And Insight Director at IMRG, said: “September marked a new phase in the Covid outbreak as, after three months of easing restrictions and encouraging work/life/social interactions to resume, restrictions started to be reimposed. The situation is somewhat different to how it was in March though, and it didn’t trigger an upsurge in online sales. Growth is still very strong, but the weekly and monthly trend lines are fluctuating in line with what we’d expect to see this time of year.”
But he added that the stricter measures introduced this month could change all that and “the attractiveness of physical retail may decline further”.
Meanwhile, Capgemini’s Lucy Gibbs said: “The hardest hit sectors during lockdown, such as clothing, have continued to pick up throughout September, boosted by increased activity and a turn in the weather. However, with increasing social distancing measures, combined with the lack of festive events appearing in the calendar, we are likely to see further disruption to seasonal patterns as we head into winter.
“Higher frequency purchases are also indicating new consumer behaviour patterns. Basket values have dropped 10% in September, whilst year-on-year demand has remained over 40% growth, suggesting that the convenience of online channels is increasingly relied upon for day to day purchases. This leaves an interesting landscape ahead of Christmas, where the prospect of double-digit growth on top of peak sales days could cause retailers to seek ways to ease the pressure on delivery channels.”
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