The 2.3% decline represents the highest result the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks online sales for 200 retailers, has seen in 2022, although it is being compared against a result of -8.6% in June 2021, which builds a slightly less positive picture.

Equally, the month-on-month growth increased by 1.5% against May, suggesting a slight levelling of sales. Typical growth for this time of year is around 2–5% – putting this result at the low end of ‘normal’.

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At category level, the trends seen throughout H1 continue to dominate, with all categories reporting negative growth aside from clothing.

Looking at the year-to-date (measuring January-June 2022 year-on-year growth against January-June 2021) shows the extent to which category growth has been negative in 2022. The total market is down -16.7% in H1 but clothing continues to recover from the pandemic at +4% year-to-date and +11.3% year-on-year, perhaps buoyed by the uptick in in-person events and summer travel.

Category performance YTD

Elsewhere, after rising rapidly since January, the Average Basket Value (ABV) seems to have stabilised for the first time this year – dropping from last month’s peak of GBP150 back to GBP145. This is still very high historically, suggesting that consumers continue to prioritise quality over quantity with their purchases.

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director, IMRG, says: “It speaks volumes that a decline of -2.3% feels quite good in the context of 2022. The cost-of-living crisis is having a profound impact on customer behaviour in ways that set it apart from the pandemic. For example, while the pandemic drove massive growth online, it didn’t change things like average spend or conversion. If we compare a lockdown period (Q4 2020) with a non-lockdown period (Q4 2021), the differences in some metrics are negligible – the percentage of visitors who view a product page on retail sites fell -3.5%, while the percentage that add something to their basket and proceed to the checkout fell -4.5%. Comparing Q1 2021 with Q1 2022, as the cost-of-living increases started to bite, those falls are -12% and -22.7% respectively. In some respects, incredibly, it is having a bigger impact.”

Last month, the IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index revealed sales at online clothing retailers grew by 14% in May compared to the same period last year, while online retail sales growth fell by more than 8% overall.