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Online retail sales soar in November

Tom Bottomley
17 December 2019

November’s online retail sales leapt up 54% from October, and were up 16.4% year-on-year against November 2018, signalling the highest sales growth recorded since April 2018.

Online only retailers benefited most from the Black Friday and Cyber Monday surge, with sales up 24.7% versus +9.2% for multichannel retailers, though sales through M-commerce recorded their lowest ever growth rate ever – dropping -8.5% - according to new figures from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index.

November’s sales growth far exceeded the 3-month, 6-month and 12-month rolling averages of+10.7%, +7.7% and +6.1% respectively, and was over double the 8% growth seen in November last year.

Clothing saw its highest sales increase of +19.3% since November 2016, while health & beauty reported particularly strong growth of +43.9%.

Lucy Gibbs, senior consultant at Capgemini, said: “The jump in November sales this year was well beyond expectations after an otherwise difficult year. Could this be what retailers, or rather, consumers were waiting for?

“The highest growth this year has been seen in the discounting periods, a sign that when wider consumer confidence is low then the predictable sale events in the retail calendar are counted on for stretching wallet spend.”

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, commented: ”After a year of very weak demand online, the November result is little short of exceptional. The uplift in revenue during Black Friday week was very strong at +11.7%, but actually growth was sustained across the whole month. There was a trend for retailers starting their campaigns earlier in the month this year and shoppers seemed to respond readily.”

Mulcahy warns that, while this is undoubtedly positive news, it would seem odd if retailers suddenly experienced consistently strong Christmas trading after such a poor year.

“Since November captured a high share of sales volumes, will shoppers have anything left to buy in December? Early anecdotal evidence suggests December trading was very subdued in the first week – how is it going to balance out overall?” added Mulcahy.

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