Online Retail Sales Enjoy Record 2020 While Fashion and Footwear Take Hard Hits

Online retail sales continued on their upward trajectory after its impressive November performance, maintaining a 37% year-on-year high.

Differing Fortunes

According to the latest data provided by IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, the numbers are a thirteen-year-high as it is the highest annual growth witnessed since 2007, making the past year “a standout year in e-commerce.”


On the other hand, dwindling levels of social interaction throughout the past year saw falling numbers in sales of clothing and footwear. December clothing sales of +3.2% year-on-year failed to raise the yearly figure of just +1.3%, down from 8.2% in 2019. The hardest hit was footwear, which experienced a steep decline of -5% year-on-year in December and -10.8% overall in 2020.


The margin between multichannel and online only retail performance was more pronounced this past month, the two groups recorded figures of +52.4% and +11.4% respectively. These figures are indicative of a more far-reaching pattern, with yearly figures revealing overall sales growth of +57% versus +9.1%.

Greater Exposure for Online Retail

The after effects of the pandemic such as massive restrictions and street closures combined to bring place greater significance to online retail in 2020 than at any other point in history.


In spite of the series of lockdowns necessitated by the second wave of the virus, online retail sales in December continued its upwardly mobile trend in the UK, with sales up 37.6% across the third quarter defying forecasts of a negative holiday trading period. The numbers were boosted by November’s peak performance of +39% year-on-year and the Black Friday sales period.


A managing consultant for Retail Insight at Capgemini, Lucy Gibbs, opined that “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.”

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