Total online retail sales from 1 October to 30 November, including Black Friday, are (not price-adjusted) 16.8 per cent below the same period in 2021 across all sectors. However, looking at the same period in the pre-Corona year 2019, a 13 per cent increase remains. Fashion completely forfeits the growth of the first two pandemic years. The direct comparison with 2021 shows that the fashion industry (“clothing cluster”) is hit the hardest by the weak Christmas business. Sales in October and November are (nominally) back at the level that Christmas sales reached in 2019. This signifies that retailers cannot implement price increases, except in the luxury segment.
Christmas sales: growth in daily consumer goods
Other goods clusters are proving more resilient: despite the decline in Christmas sales so far, daily consumer goods (food, drug store, pet supplies) are the only cluster that can still realise growth over the full year 2021. Sales of household goods and appliances were also stable at 2.9 per cent. Furniture, lamps and decorative goods (minus 9.1 per cent) and home textiles (minus 5.8 per cent) lost significantly less than the overall market.
“Any hopes for the Christmas business cannot come true, which is another reason we will see a minus in online mail orders for the year. Due to the Corona lockdown and the general consumer slump, the industry can do little to counteract the double burden of solid sales in the previous year. Clothing and consumer electronics, in particular, are slumping. However, the latter is normally a strong category of goods during Cyber Week and the Christmas quarter,” explains Martin Groß-Albenhausen, Deputy Chief Executive at the Bundesverband E-Commerce und Versandhandel Deutschland e. V. (BEVH).
Christmas sales: the majority of retailers pessimistic
Between October and November, the BEVH surveyed the current mood of its members, who represent around 90 percent of turnover in B2C business, in a random sample. The picture is very divided and shows how differently retailers can pass on rising prices: Asked about their current business situation, 34.8 percent currently expected “lower sales” and 17.4 percent even “significantly lower sales”.
24.6 percent expected “higher turnover” and 4.4 percent “significantly higher turnover”. In contrast, 18.8 percent of the respondents in the sample do not expect any changes. Asked about the three biggest burdens on their own business (multiple answers possible), 74.3 percent of the respondents in the sample referred to “consumer uncertainty”, 64.3 percent to “rising costs in purchasing” and 50.0 percent to “rising costs for packaging or logistics”.
On the methodology of the study
In the consumer survey “Interactive Commerce in Germany”, 40,000 private individuals from Germany aged 14 and over are surveyed from January to December on their spending behaviour in online and mail-order retail and on their consumption of digital services (such as travel or ticketing). The final results of the study are published at the beginning of each year. The figures presented today are based on the evaluation of the period from 1 October to 30 November, including Black Friday. The study is conducted by Beyondata GmbH.
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