According to the latest data from the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, online menswear sales in the UK saw a significant recovery in September, while footwear sales continued to struggle. Overall, online retail sales rose by 42% compared to the previous year, indicating that consumer interest in online shopping remains high despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Menswear sales experienced a growth of 20.5% compared to the previous year, which is a positive change from the year-to-date average fall of 10.3%. However, footwear sales declined by 6.9% during the same period, highlighting the ongoing challenges faced by the sector.

The fashion industry as a whole saw a sales increase of 7.9% in September, which can be attributed to the excitement surrounding the new season’s deliveries. This suggests that consumers are still invested in fashion and willing to make purchases online.

Interestingly, the data revealed that multichannel retailers performed significantly better than their online-only counterparts, with a growth rate of 62.7% compared to 19.6%. This underscores the importance of having a strong e-commerce presence for retailers with physical stores, as they were able to attract and retain customers during this difficult time.

The reintroduction of lockdown restrictions in September had an impact on online sales, as they returned to more typical seasonal patterns. However, the health and beauty category exceeded expectations with a growth rate of 78.5%, indicating that consumers are still interested in purchasing beauty products online.

Andy Mulcahy, Strategy And Insight Director at IMRG, pointed out that September marked a new phase in the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite the easing of restrictions in recent months, the reimposition of restrictions did not result in a surge in online sales. However, Mulcahy noted that this could change if stricter measures are introduced in the future, potentially further decreasing the appeal of physical retail.

Lucy Gibbs from Capgemini highlighted the impact of social distancing measures and the lack of festive events on seasonal patterns in the upcoming months. She also noted a shift in consumer behavior, with more frequent purchases and lower basket values. This indicates that consumers are increasingly relying on online channels for their everyday shopping needs.

Looking ahead to the Christmas season, retailers may face challenges in managing the pressure on delivery channels, especially if there is double-digit growth on top of peak sales days. This suggests that retailers will need to find innovative solutions to ease the strain on their delivery operations during this critical period.

Overall, the September online retail figures provide valuable insight into the current state of the industry amidst the ongoing pandemic. While menswear sales have shown signs of recovery, the footwear sector continues to encounter difficulties. Retailers must be agile and adapt to changing consumer behavior to ensure their e-commerce operations are strong enough to meet the demands of the evolving retail landscape.

Useful Links:
The Guardian – UK online shopping sales accelerate, with menswear shoppers leading the way
Retail Gazette – UK e-commerce sales soar by 42% in September, menswear jumps 20%