High Street stores shouldn’t crack open the remaining eggnog, says ParcelHero, after record decline

New retail sales figures from the Office for National Statistics show a climb in the overall value of sales over December 2020, while online sales values tumbled. But the underlying numbers are far less healthy for the High Street, warns ParcelHero.

December’s retail sales figures, released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show a climb of 5.7% YOY in the value of retail sales, while online sales fell back by -8.3% YOY. However, High Street stores shouldn’t break open the last of the Christmas eggnog just yet, says the home delivery expert ParcelHero. The full statistics reveal a far less merry Christmas.

ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘While the value of sales was up as people splashed the cash on expensive items, the actual amount of goods sold fell by -0.9% YOY and -3.7% compared to the previous month, November. That -3.7% figure is the biggest monthly December decline since current records started in 1996.

‘And while online sales values fell -8.3% against December 2020 and -1.8% compared to the previous month, as a slice of the overall retail market, they actually rose slightly to 26.6% in December 2021, up from 26.3% in November. Keep in mind that, just before the pandemic hit, online sales were just 19.7% of all retail sales in February 2020.

‘Overall, these figures show that the arrival of Omicron threw a spanner in the works for retailers’ recovery plans at the worst possible time of the year. As Brits became aware of how quickly Omicron was spreading, they abandoned the High Street but didn’t turn to online in massive numbers.

‘Why was this? As we already know, millions of canny shoppers had bought most of their presents in November to avoid Christmas delivery delays and crowded stores. The value of overall retail sales rose a staggering 10.8% in November.

‘It’s increasingly the pattern that November sales, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don’t boost retailers’ overall Christmas profits, they merely rob sales from December.

‘To discover more about how e-commerce and physical stores can use technology to help survive the post-pandemic retail revolution, see ParcelHero’s new study on the High Street of the future at: https://www.parcelhero.com/research/shop-of-the-future