Apr 13, 2021
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Clothing strength continues online, but year-on-year comparisons are easy

Apr 13, 2021

Online sales continued to grow in the UK during March with a 71.7% year-on-year increase, although given how much of a shock to the system the first lockdown was in March 2020, the strength of the increase this time was perhaps no surprise.

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That's according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of more than 200 retailers. Interestingly though, it said that some of the past year’s top performers such as health & beauty saw a slowdown.

Even more interesting – and especially given that a Barclaycard report said that clothing sales declined during March comparde to the more normal month of March 2019 – clothing sales through the 200 retailers this study tracks were booming, with a 75.9% increase when compared to March 2020.

However, this report also said that the growth should be put in the context of the overall sales spiral a year ago. It said that clothing was strong as as people began to ready their wardrobes for social occasions being put back in the diary – but this was measured against a plummet of 18.9% this time last year.

And as mentioned, health & beauty began to slow down although it couldn't exactly be called weak with a 46.5% rise.

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant - Retail Insight at Capgemini, said: “March continues to demonstrate strong overall online growth at +71.7%, however as we pass the anniversary of the first UK lockdown, the trends from the last 12 months have started to reach a turning point. The clothing sector dipped to a record low in March last year, but this month all the clothing categories have reported the strongest growth in the last five years. Not only is the comparator for clothing low, but sales will have also been boosted by new season releases, combined with a cautiously optimistic emergence from the latest and longest UK lockdown.”

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