Despite expectations of early festive spending, online retail sales fell by 11.2% in the year to October 2021 according to information technology company Capgemini.

The latest IMRG Capgemini Online Retail Index, which tracks the online sales performance of over 200 retailers, was an improvement on the 12.5% fall in online sales in the year to September.

Alcohol and clothing retailers were the only online shopkeepers who saw a positive growth in sales during October 2021 compared to September.

Beers, wines and spirits were up 2.2% compared to September, while clothing sales were up 7.5%.

For only the second time since December 2019, garden sales have declined (-7.5%), while health and beauty remains the worst hit category at -23.3% growth.

Lucy Gibbs, retail lead for analytics and AI at Capgemini, said:

"October online spending was more subdued than expected this year. Stock shortages and supply chain disruptions gave speculation that customers might start shopping earlier than usual, however this may also be having a negative effect."

Andy Mulcahy, strategy and insight director at IMRG, said:

"The potential for Christmas shopping to get underway early this year did not really materialise in October, but it is evident that retailers are certainly trying to get it moving in early November."

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