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Sales at UK’s leading online only retailers jump 22% to hit record high

Published on 20 September 2021

• Record sales for Top 20 UK online only retailers at £16.4bn
• Fashion retailers become more innovative in how they target consumers

Sales at the UK’s Top 20 online only retailers have reached a record £16.4bn in the last year*, rising 22% from £13.2bn the previous year, shows research by RPC, the international law firm.

This growth continues to be driven by the success of fashion retailers, which increased their revenues by 14.2% to £6.9bn in the past year.

Boohoo reported sales of £1.7bn in the year to 28 February 2021, up 41% on the previous year, while sales at ASOS grew 19% to £3.2bn. The growth is driven by strong demand for products such as casualwear and athleisure during the early stages of lockdown, and “occasion” wear when restrictions started to ease last summer.

Other high-performing online retailers include electrical goods retailer, which saw the biggest growth with a 62% jump in sales to £1.7bn. The Hut Group, which owns brands including Myprotein and Lookfantastic, saw a 41.5% rise in turnover to £1.6bn.

RPC explains that whilst the online sector has been helped tremendously by the tailwinds provided by the lockdown the sector has also benefited by its willingness to invest heavily in marketing and CAPEX to help deliver growth. For example, online retailers have been investing heavily in tools such as augmented reality to enhance the shopping experience for consumers. During lockdown ASOS unveiled an augmented reality tool on its website which digitally fitted clothes onto models to show how they could look when worn.

Jeremy Drew, Co-Head of Retail at RPC, says: “There’s no doubt the pandemic has accelerated the growth of online retail. However, e-retailers still deserve plaudits for capitalising on that sudden shift by dramatically adding to capacity.” 

“As social distancing eased, physical stores havemounted a fightback  showing  they are  a key part of the retail mix.”

Another way online retailers have been able to drive sales is through more effective  investment in their social media presence than some of their High Street rivals.

Online retailers have typically been quicker to partner with influencers than some of the more traditional retailers. RPC says this has enabled them to generate a higher level of engagement on social media and better sales growth among a younger demographic.

Boohoo for example has over 8.2 million followers on Instagram. Boohoo cited the success of its social media outreach as a key driver of sales.

Sales of the Top 20 online only UK retailers have almost doubled in five years

Sales of the Top 20 online only UK retailers have almost doubled in five years

* Companies House