Ecommerce sales in the UK had their strongest year-on-year growth since June as golden-quarter spend was brought forward and much of the UK was plunged back into lockdown.

With the UK government announcing that England would go into lockdown on October 31, following similar ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in both Northern Ireland and Wales in mid-October, retailers saw online sales leap 61% in the first week of November, according to the latest data from the IMRG Capgemini online retail sales index. 

The 61% increase was the largest jump since the end of the first national lockdown in June and was the fourth-highest overall period of growth for online sales this year. 

IMRG noted that the closure of non-essential retailers “is likely to have driven a stronger focus among shoppers to get their purchasing done earlier this year” for Black Friday and Christmas than previously. 

Many retailers have also brought their Black Friday and Christmas campaigns forward this year in order to ease the burden on supply chains and delivery infrastructure. 

Of the 320 retailers it monitors, IMRG said 11.6% had such a campaign live on November 11 2020, versus 3.6% for the same day in 2019.

IMRG strategy and insight director Andy Mulcahy said: “Circumstances appear to be conspiring to make November a very big month for online sales. Black Friday week always is, but this year there was a need to encourage shoppers to do the bulk of their online purchasing a bit earlier, so we can avoid heavy backlogs and delays in proximity to Christmas.

”The fact that people have responded so strongly early in November is very positive in that respect, as it’s best to experience potentially overwhelming volumes now so it can all be processed well in advance of Christmas.”