Shopping statistics 2021

Online shopping has risen by 80% since last year.

Whether you are looking to do the weekly shop or let off a bit of steam with some retail therapy, people in the UK love to shop. In this report, we’ve put together insights on how exactly Brits like to do their shopping.

Quick overview

  • Almost 9 in 10 people (87%) shopped online in 2020, the highest proportion since 2008.
  • The most popular reasons for shopping online were to compare prices (53%) and to explore more choices (51%).
  • The value of Internet sales was greatest in November 2020, when it reached £3,251 million.
  • The most popular online purchase was clothing, with 55% of people buying clothes online in 2020.
  • The industries with the greatest increase in online traffic following COVID-19 are supermarkets and sports equipment, with an increase of 35% and 24% respectively.

Online retail trends in the UK

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With increased accessibility and the ability to compare products, online shopping is becoming more and more popular. There’s no doubt that COVID-19 restrictions also impacted people’s likelihood to shop online.

Internet sales reached their highest value in November 2020, at £3,251 million. The reason for this spike is two-fold: people were buying a lot in the lead-up to Christmas and online buying increased when coronavirus restrictions made it more difficult to go shopping in person.

Date Value of online retail sales
Nov 20 £3,251 million
Oct 20 £2,325 million
Sep 20 £2,022 million
Aug 20 £2,035 million
July 20 £2,203 million
Jun 20 £2,349 million
May 20 £2,196 million
Apr 20 £1,803 million
Mar 20 £1,518 million
Feb 20 £1,323 million
Jan 20 £1,386 million
Dec 19 £2,079 million
Nov 19 £1,809 million
Oct 19 £1,450 million
Sep 19 £1,322 million
Aug 19 £1,331 million
July 19 £1,424 million
Jun 19 £1,354 million
May 19 £1,378 million
Apr 19 £1,348 million
Mar 19 £1,345 million
Feb 19 £1,243 million
Jan 19 £1,279 million
Dec 18 £1,855 million
Nov 18 £1,817 million
Oct 18 £1,333 million
Sep 18 £1,219 million
Aug 18 £1,193 million
July 18 £1,246 million
Jun 18 £1,248 million
May 18 £1,264 million
Apr 18 £1,178 million
Mar 18 £1,176 million
Feb 18 £1,094 million
Jan 18 £1,127 million
Dec 17 £1,642 million
Nov 17 £1,608 million
Oct 17 £1,180 million
Sep 17 £1,091 million
Aug 17 £1,047 million
July 17 £1,074 million
Jun 17 £1,079 million
May 17 £1,043 million
Apr 17 £1,043 million
Mar 17 £1,009 million
Feb 17 £949 million
Jan 17 £992 million
Dec 16 £1,506 million
Nov 16 £1,461 million
Oct 16 £1,077 million
Sep 16 £961 million
Aug 16 £880 million
July 16 £894 million
Jun 16 £899 million
May 16 £891 million
Apr 16 £854 million
Mar 16 £812 million
Feb 16 £777 million
Jan 16 £854 million
Dec 15 £1,157 million
Nov 15 £1,138 million
Oct 15 £828 million
Sep 15 £764 million
Aug 15 £712 million
July 15 £759 million
June 15 £767 million
May 15 £745 million
Apr 15 £756 million
Mar 15 £728 million
Feb 15 £691 million
Jan 15 £751 million
Dec 14 £1,067 million
Nov 14 £990 million
Oct 14 £742 million
Sep 14 £668 million
Aug 14 £655 million
July 14 £671 million
Jun 14 £673 million
May 14 £681 million
Apr 14 £662 million
Mar 14 £647 million
Feb 14 £620 million
Jan 14 £629 million
Dec 13 £960 million
Nov 13 £827 million
Oct 13 £663 million
Sep 13 £606 million
Aug 13 £576 million
July 13 £584 million
Jun 13 £586 million
May 13 £584 million
Apr 13 £575 million
Mar 13 £593 million
Feb 13 £554 million
Jan 13 £567 million
- -

This spike to £3,251 million in online sales represents an 80% increase from the year before. While this November peak is predominantly explained by the arrival of Christmas, the previous peak of £2,349 million in June 2020 is explained solely by the increase in demand for online shopping following the first UK lockdown imposed only four months before.

Date Percentage change in monthly online retail sales
Nov 20 80%
Oct 20 60%
Sep 20 53%
Aug 20 53%
July 20 55%
Jun 20 74%
May 20 59%
Apr 20 34%
Mar 20 13%
Feb 20 6%
Jan 20 8%
Dec 19 12%
Nov 19 0%
Oct 19 9%
Sep 19 8%
Aug 19 12%
July 19 14%
Jun 19 9%
May 19 9%
Apr 19 14%
Mar 19 14%
Feb 19 14%
Jan 19 14%
Dec 18 13%
Nov 18 13%
Oct 18 13%
Sep 18 12%
Aug 18 14%
July 18 16%
Jun 18 16%
May 18 21%
Apr 18 13%
Mar 18 17%
Feb 18 15%
Jan 18 14%
Dec 17 9%
Nov 17 10%
Oct 17 10%
Sep 17 14%
Aug 17 19%
July 17 20%
Jun 17 20%
May 17 17%
Apr 17 22%
Mar 17 24%
Feb 17 22%
Jan 17 16%
Dec 16 30%
Nov 16 28%
Oct 16 30%
Sep 16 26%
Aug 16 24%
July 16 18%
Jun 16 17%
May 16 20%
Apr 16 13%
Mar 16 12%
Feb 16 12%
Jan 16 14%
Dec 15 8%
Nov 15 15%
Oct 15 12%
Sep 15 14%
Aug 15 9%
July 15 13%
Jun 15 14%
May 15 9%
Apr 15 14%
Mar 15 13%
Feb 15 11%
Jan 15 19%
Dec 14 11%
Nov 14 20%
Oct 14 12%
Sep 14 10%
Aug 14 14%
July 14 15%
Jun 14 15%
May 14 17%
Apr 14 15%
Mar 14 9%
Feb 14 12%
Jan 14 11%
Dec 13 14%
Nov 13 18%
Oct 13 18%
Sep 13 17%
Aug 13 22%
July 13 10%
Jun 13 18%
May 13 11%
Apr 13 14%
Mar 13 19%
Feb 13 13%
Jan 13 13%
- -

Most popular goods and services to buy online

The most popular online purchase was clothing, with 55% of people buying clothing items online in 2020. Food deliveries were the second most popular thing to buy, with a third (32%) of people ordering food online in 2020. Closely following this were printed books, magazines and newspapers.

Goods or service Percentage of people who bought this online
Clothes (including sports clothing), shoes and accessories 55%
Deliveries from restaurants, fast food chains or catering services 32%
Printed books, magazines and newspapers 29%
Furniture, home accessories and gardening products 28%
Computers, tablets, mobile phones and accessories 24%
Children's toys and childcare items 22%
Cosmetics, beauty and wellness products 22%
Cleaning products and personal hygiene products 18%
Consumer electronics, e.g. TVs, stereos, cameras and household appliances 18%
Sports goods (excluding sports clothing) 17%
Food and beverages from stores or from meal kit providers 13%
Medicine and dietary supplements such as vitamins 13%
Physical copies of films or TV series 13%
Physical copies of music 12%
Bicycles, mopeds, cars and other vehicles and their spare parts 8%
- -

Shopper behaviour and opinions

Consumer motivations for shopping online

We explored people’s reasons for shopping online. According to the latest statistics, most people (53%) liked to compare the prices of products or services online. 51% of people also liked that online shopping allowed them to explore more choices.

Motivation for shopping online in the UK Percentage of people
You can compare prices 53%
There's more choice 51%
It's easier to search and buy 49%
I like to shop from home 44%

Improvements Brits want for high street shopping

As of 2019, UK consumers reported that the most important improvement that they would like to see in high street shopping was better shops (35%). The second thing they wanted was more parking (21%).

Improvement Percentage of people who said this was the most important improvement
Better shops 35%
More parking 21%
More events 14%
Later opening hours 11%
Better offers and deals from shops 9%

COVID-19 impact on shopping

Impact on online shopping worldwide

Online traffic for certain online retailers has seen a huge shift since the coronavirus pandemic. The graph below shows the percentage change in online traffic from January 2020 to October 2020.

The greatest increase (34.8%) was for supermarkets, which can be expected, with a large proportion of their normal customers trying to avoid in-person shopping. Unsurprisingly, tourism searches have seen the biggest drop (-43.7%), as has the tourism industry in general. The sportswear and sports equipment industry has been particularly innovative, introducing apps, online classes and affordable home gym equipment, thus driving a 24% increase in traffic.

Industry Percentage change
Supermarkets 34.8%
Sports equipment 23.6%
Retail tech 7.0%
Cosmetics 3.7%
Telecom 2.3%
Banking/insurance 1.8%
Home furnishings/DIY -3.1%
Luxury items -3.2%
Jewellery and watches -8.2%
Fashion -10.3%
Media -13.2%
Tourism -43.7%
- -

Impact on high street shopping in the UK

Footfall in high streets has seen a significant decline from March 2020, the beginning of the first lockdown. Since then, footfall has been at an average -56.4%.

Date Percentage change in footfall
Jan 19 -0.7%
Feb 19 -1.9%
Mar 19 2.5%
Apr 19 -1.0%
May 19 -4.8%
Jun 19 -4.5%
Jul 19 -2.7%
Aug 19 -1.9%
Sep 19 -1.8%
Oct 19 -4.9%
Nov 19 -4.3%
Dec 19 0.5%
Jan 20 -1.8%
Feb 20 -7.8%
Mar 20 -46.7%
Apr 20 -81.8%
May 20 -77.8%
Jun 20 -64.5%
Jul 20 -48.1%
Aug 20 -38.0%
Sep 20 -36.9%
Oct 20 -39.8%
Nov 20 -63.9%
Dec 20 -49.5%
Jan 21 -73.3%
- -

Sources


Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK communications manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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