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January online retail growth lowest ever

Tom Bottomley
15 February 2022

January 2022 saw the lowest rate of online sales growth ever recorded at -24.4% year-on-year, according to the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance for over 200 retailers.

2021 ended on +2.7% total growth in the market, which was the lowest annual growth rate ever and, continuing the pattern, January 2022’s drop is a direct result of retailers competing against a huge growth rate of +61.8% from January 2021, when the UK was in Lockdown 3 and online sales saw a significant boom.

At a category level, fashion saw the highest rate of growth in January 2022, with clothing up 5.4% year-on-year. Breaking that down further, womenswear was up 25.2%, menswear +16.% and footwear +19.4%.

The same was not true, however, for the rest of the categories IMRG tracks. Those with the poorest growth included skincare, which was down -48.2%, while make-up was down -45.7%.

The average basket value (ABV) was up – rising to £115 in January after dropping to £106 in December. In the first half of 2021 the ABV saw huge increases, but it had been falling since August. January was the first month since then that it has started to go back up again.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director at IMRG, said: “The first quarter of 2021 had a severe lockdown in place which drove huge online growth, so the year-on-year comparisons for the early months in 2022 are going to be harshly negative as a consequence. This can make it seem like online sales are in freefall, whereas actually it is just a natural rationalisation of the 50-60% increases we saw this time last year.”

Lucy Gibbs, Senior Manager and Retail Lead for Analytics & AI at Capgemini, commented: “January was mixed story for retail; our Online Index reported the largest year-on-year fall in sales ever, and the high street claimed the opposite. This is due to the now familiar Yin Yang effect on year-on-year revenues when comparing to last year’s lockdown store closures.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, the annual results will start to normalise and 2022 will hopefully bring a much more stable trading period, however the outlook still remains uncertain as we realise the fall out of economic and logistical challenges from the last two years.

“The drop in orders this month is greater than revenue as ABV has increased by 24%. This could be an early indicator of increased prices, reflecting the ongoing supply chain disruption and underlying cost challenges.

“The major purchase index has also fallen four points (GSK) in January, as economic pressures add to consumer concerns. Capturing share of wallet amongst increasing bills and also pent-up demand for travel, events and eating out will continue to prove to be the focus as we navigate 2022.”


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