As the Government’s ‘home isolation’ rules kicked in last week, the immediate impact of the Covid-19 Coronavirus on online consumer shopping habits was laid bare. During the first week of the new pandemic guidelines, online retail sales growth was down -2.2% Year-on-Year (YoY), according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.
Though fairly flat, this result concealed a much more tumultuous picture at a category level. One of three standout categories, last week saw a surge in online health & beauty sales, which rose by +31.6% YoY (7.3% WoW). This growth builds on a strong six-month performance by the sector, as January and February online sales grew by +4.6% and +17.6% respectively. The marked increase in last week’s figure is particularly significant, however, when compared to 2019’s average sales growth of +20.6%.
Online sales of electricals also spiked to +42.4% YoY (43% WoW), as many Britons reportedly rushed to buy home office equipment, games consoles and freezers to cope with an extended stay at home. Meanwhile, the demand for home improvement products also perhaps contributed to a +13.8% YoY (10% WoW) uptick in sales for home & garden.
On the other end of the spectrum, clothing saw its sales fall through the floor, with growth plummeting by -26.7% YoY (-22% WoW). This result was mirrored across clothing’s subcategories, with footwear growth for example tumbling to -38.2% YoY (22.9% WoW).