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Published on January 14th, 2021 | by The GC Team

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Electricals and gardening win as online sales growth hits 13-year high

A turbulent year underscored by high street closures and restrictions on consumers’ way of life brought online retail to the fore in 2020 with a standout full-year performance of +36% – the highest annual growth seen since 2007 – significantly outperforming the start-of-year prediction of +7.8%.

This is according to the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.

The figures round off an extremely successful year for both electrical sales and garden sales, up 90.8% and 222.5% respectively, while restrictions on social interactions and work-from-home policies saw sales of clothing rise just 1.3%, down from 8.2% in 2019 with footwear particularly hard hit, down 10.8% throughout the year.

Other notable spending trends in 2020 included the widening of the gap between multichannel and online-only retailer performance.  For the first time since 2017, multichannel retailers performed significantly better than their online-only counterparts, with sales growth of 57% vs 9.1%, while smaller retailers were also seen to outperform larger ones, perhaps due to their ability to be more agile in response to imposed behavioural changes.

Mobile commerce sales also benefitted from the changes, finishing the year up 73% after several years of plateauing growth.

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant, Retail Insight, Capgemini, said: “Retail in 2020 has been fundamentally shaped by the pandemic, which caused disruption to consumer demand norms and a shift in focus to digital channels, reflected in the strongest online year-on-year growth in 13 years.

“Learnings from 2020 will be crucial as we navigate the uncertainties this year and a sense of a new baseline will take a while to be established. Retailers best set to ride out the storm are those with a strong online presence and the ability to remain nimble, using demand sensing to react to the changing landscape and adapt to surges both instore and online, combined with a readiness to take on opportunities as they come in 2021.”

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