Trends & Features

Lockdown versus lockdown: online sales rocketed 62% this March over lockdown March 2020

Despite the temptations of an imminent return to shopping in ‘real’ stores, March online sales still boomed 0.6% against February’s sales and over 60% against the first month of Lockdown 1.0 last year.

Today’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) retail sales figures for March reveal the value of online sales boomed by 62% against the same month last year, which was the first-ever lockdown month.

The home delivery expert ParcelHero says shoppers decided not to wait for the reopening of stores in April and continued to splash the cash online.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘Shoppers ignored the siren call of the High Street and continued to spend online rather than save their money for ‘real’ stores in April. Online sales boomed by 0.6% this March over the previous month. This was the largest monthly online sales growth since June 2020, with retailers suggesting that the upcoming easing of lockdown restrictions had encouraged people to ditch joggers in favour of smarter clothes for reunions with people they hadn’t seen for months.

‘March’s sales results were positive in general, with the value of all sales – both online and in-store – up 5.5% over February. Even more fascinating is that these figures allow us to compare how we shopped online this year against March 2020, the first month of lockdown across the UK. Some analysts had been expecting a slump in e-commerce year-on-year sales growth as, back in March last year, non-essential stores had closed and everyone was suddenly forced online for the first time. Instead, this March crushed web store sales values for March 2020. Last March, online sales took just 23.1% of the UK’s entire retail spend; this March, that figure had climbed to 34.7% of consumers’ overall spend.

‘Of course, March’s retail figures are just the warm-up act. High Street retailers are really waiting for the ONS retail figures for April, when they are released next month. Footfall soared over 80% during the first week that non-essential stores reopened, but the early signs are that in-store shopping was still down by 25% on 2019’s pre-Covid levels. April’s ONS figures will help give a fuller picture.

‘Only stores that embrace their websites as their most important shop window and ensure their online service matches the standard of their in-store experience will survive in the long-term. Our report revealing the measures High Street retailers can take to ensure they have a future is available at:

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