New ONS retail figures show a 10.8% increase in the value of retail sales against November 2020. Only online sales stuttered, falling -12.2%. That’s not the full story, however, says ParcelHero. All non-essential stores were shut last November, and as Omicron sweeps the country, a month will be a long time in retail.
Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed shoppers flooded back to the High Street in November, creating a 10.8% rise in the value of retail sales, compared to a year previously. The value of sales also grew 2.3% over the previous month, October 2021. In contrast, online sales tumbled -12.2% YOY, but that’s only half the picture, says the online delivery expert ParcelHero.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘On the face of it, online sales took a bit of a pasting in November when compared to November 2020. However, last November we were in lockdown, with all non-essential stores closed, so we would expect a significant year-on-year fall. In fact, online sales’ values were actually up a modest 0.1% against the previous month, October 2021, so anyone writing online’s epitaph is misguided.
‘It was truly heartening to see, for example, clothing store sales actually exceeding pre-pandemic levels for the first time, with volumes up 3.2% over February 2020, the month before Covid-19 hit the UK. Unfortunately, however, the virus is not done yet. The new Omicron variant only reached the UK at the end of November, and its impact on the High Street is likely to be significant. While it hasn’t forced another lockdown and the closure of all non-essential stores again, it has made consumers think twice before hitting the High Street.
‘It’s likely that online sales, which took 26.9% of the overall retail market in November, will rise significantly again in December. Shoppers will be increasingly wary of crowded town centres in a bid to avoid Omicron and having to self-isolate in the run-up to Christmas. The High Street’s loss will be online’s gain, so we expect a far stronger e-commerce performance in December.
‘With that in mind, the window for Christmas final online order dates is getting tighter. Given the current strain on delivery services because of Omicron and Brexit, we won’t be surprised if retailers change to earlier final order dates as Christmas nears. That’s why our continually updated Christmas deadlines tool is so useful for keeping shoppers in the know with all their favourite retailers’ final order dates.
‘To check the easy-to-use retailers’ final order and final mailing dates tool, see: https://www.parcelhero.com/events/christmas-gifts-delivery