UK Online Retail Sales Fall 8.7% in May


Sales by discount retailers fell 15% in May across the United Kingdom, leading an overall 8.7% year-over-year drop in those types of purchases in the region, according to a Monday (June 13) press release regarding the latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of more than 200 retailers.

Luxury retailers were down 3.6% year over year in May, while mid-market retailers were up 0.5% from the same time last year, the release stated. The May results represented a 0.6% drop from April U.K. retail sales, an anomaly since May is usually higher than April.

Those looking for flickers of optimism can point to the $184 average basket value, up more than $7 from the previous high in April, according to the release. The fact that sales were down 8.7% anyway is a reflection of the ongoing inflation hikes and possibly customers ordering more to avoid multiple delivery fees on their purchases.

Website traffic was up 8% year over year, but many retailers said they were dealing with “lengthy purchase cycles as consumers sit in the consideration stage for longer,” the release stated.

Online clothing sales were up 14% from May 2021, with women’s apparel up 18% and men’s gear up 12% in that time, according to the release. Health and beauty online sales took a 28% hit, largely because shoppers are making these purchases in person after two years of pandemic lockdowns and quarantines.

“There’s no dressing it up, May’s performance was pretty awful online,” said IMRG Strategy and Insight Director Andy Mulcahy in the release. “April’s results suggested growth might be flat, but it is clear now that the economic situation is having a deep impact on demand. If it wasn’t for the Jubilee, which produced a slightly better week than the others, the decline might have been double-digit against negative growth for the same month last year.”

Meanwhile, Google, Meta, TikTok and other companies in the online advertising industry may face a new regulatory landscape in the U.K. as a result of new legislation, the creation of a new regulator and even enforcement actions after government officials closed a public consultation on its Online Advertising Program Wednesday (June 8) that might mean stricter online advertising rules.

Read more: UK to Close Online Advertising Consultation Eyeing Stricter Rules, Regulator