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Lockdown 2 and Black Friday trigger highest November online retail sales growth since 2007

Tom Bottomley
15 December 2020

Online retail sales growth soared +39% year-on-year in November, with Lockdown 2 and Black Friday sales playing their part in what was the greatest online sales growth since 2007.

That was building on a +20% growth in November 2019, which was a year-high rate for 2019, according to the latest data from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.

Boosted by early discounts in the Black Friday build up, and with high street stores closed due to Lockdown 2, online sales were also +58% month-on-month from October, 2020. And mobile commerce sales were up an impressive +110% year-on-year.

The only category to see a decline was footwear, at -9.1%, though Black Friday drove significant sales in electricals – up +72% year-on-year, and garden sales were up a surprising +127%. The festive season also saw sales of homeware and decorations soar +154% year-on-year.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy and Insight Director at IMRG, said: “Although the rate of growth in November was lower than we’ve seen at other times this year, you have to bear in mind that November volumes are far, far higher than over the spring and summer. For this reason, it was actually a huge month for online growth, especially since it built on a strong rate of growth in 2019. It was also the highest November growth rate since 2007 – and there have been some huge Novembers since Black Friday arrived in the UK.

“The positive news for retailers is that the actual monetary spend was the highest we've ever recorded in our index – shoppers started spending early in November and continued to do so right the way through the month. It has led, as expected, to some delivery delays. One area of concern will be the fact that sales growth online remained very strong (+52%) in week one of December, so the volumes are still incredibly high as we approach Christmas, causing further pressure for carriers.

Lucy Gibbs, Managing Consultant at Retail Insight, Capgemini, added: “The first few weeks in November were particularly strong, as retailers started their discounts significantly earlier than previous years. The second lockdown meant that high street doors were closed once again across England, and the focus online meant that retailers needed to spread the demand across the period to cope with peak sales

“Increased spending over the holiday period may also provide relief for some retailers from customers who have been able to save throughout lockdowns. We have seen that the basket value was 30% higher this November than in 2019. As we move into December, online and operations will be a differential in the run up to Christmas and, although spending patterns remain unpredictable for the foreseeable future, there is no doubt that the significance of digital-led shopping experiences and habits are here to stay.”

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