How did e-commerce perform in December?

How did e-commerce perform in December?

IMRG’s Black Friday results showed that both growth and traffic were in the negative during November, so did December help the ecommerce market make a comeback? Data from the digital dashboard shows us that growth was down -6.4% in December, however this isn’t as bad as it may initially seem.

When looking at the Month on Month measure for revenue growth, we can see poor November performance reflected in the grey line representing 2021, dropping below the previous two years. However, in December, the grey line is seen to be higher than 2019 and 2020 in the same month, demonstrating better performance. November has dragged down the results, but Christmas sales helped the market make a comeback. Overall, the year finished up +2.7% growth, which is the lowest ever recorded by industry tracker, IMRG. The YoY measure isn’t the best fit when comparing 2021 and 2020 due to the nature of the ecommerce boom during the UK lockdowns.

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MoM Revenue Growth


Instead, a more accurate measure might be to look at the two year period of the pandemic in its entirety, as the market is actually up +39% overall—the highest ever results, as opposed to the one year view showing the lowest ever. In this sense, we can conclude that the year’s growth has just been skewed because it’s matched against 2020, an anomalously high-performing year.

Below, we can see the MoM growth rate for December, across different categories. Most of them are in the negative, aside from gifts and lingerie. This isn’t as bad as it may first seem, as they’re just down compared to the month before, where Black Friday sales meant it was normal for December to be down in comparison.


MoM Revenue Growth for Categories


The overall growth for YTD in 2021, closing off the year in December, was a lot more optimistic. The majority of categories saw some level of positive growth, with clothing and women’s/menswear performing well—although it must be noted that this was predominantly against the low growth the previous year during the pandemic, when no one was buying new clothes. Home and garden, as well as beers, wines and spirits saw good revenue and performance across the year.


To conclude, the final month of 2021 helped the ecommerce market make a return after a low performing November. December sales were down against last year, but this is hardly a surprise now that shops are open again, and multichannel retailers have seen a decline in sales. Overall, 2021 saw high online retail growth in the first two quarters of the year, and negative growth for the remaining time, due to the reopening of the high street. Ending the year up +2.7% can be considered a win for the world of ecommerce.

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