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Online retail BWS sales continue to buck downward trend

Published:  18 October, 2021

Online retail sales of beers, wine and spirits (BWS) remain strong, increasing by 18.6% in September 2021, bucking the downward trend of overall retail sales, according to latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers.

As a comparison overall retail sales online fell by 12.5% year-on-year last month.

There was a similar trend in August when turnover from UK online retail slumped by 9.3% while online sales of the BWS category rose by 26.8%.

Breaking the results down further, September’s subdued online sales suggested consumers were browsing and not buying, which could result from a variety of factors including supply chain shortages and consumer caution in the face of rising inflation and gas prices or Christmas browsing starting earlier, the index said.

Lucy Gibbs, managing consultant – Retail Lead for Analytics & AI, Capgemini: “Online sales were more subdued in September, and basket value decreased month on month for the first time this year. This has been reflected across the market alongside a dip in consumer confidence as back to school and a push for a ‘return to normal’ coincides with concerns on energy bills, costs, and tax hikes.

“Supply chains are also under significant strain, presenting challenges for retailers as we move into the peak trading period. How retailers will navigate the build up to Black Friday and Christmas events will be crucial to manage availability of stock throughout the period and maintain customer service levels.”

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG: “Many retailers are reporting that Christmas searches on their sites started very early this year. One possibility for the relatively low performance in online sales in September may be related to that point. If shoppers were browsing for ideas in September, the purchasing may start to fall in October. The conversion on sites in September was down around 25% on the same time last year, but that has been a trend across many months. If the purchasing accelerates early, it might spur some to launch their Black Friday campaigns even earlier than they did in 2020, which could lead to an extended event this year.”