New Government figures show January’s online retail sales collapsed by -4.5% against the previous month and -20.8% against January 2021. However, that doesn’t mean the e-commerce genie has been put back in the bottle, says ParcelHero.

At the height of the pandemic, back in February 2021, online sales grabbed 35.6% of all retail trade as shoppers fled from the High Street. In contrast, the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) retail sales figures for January show that – even though the overall value of retail sales increased by 2% over December – e-commerce sales collapsed by a hefty -20.8% compared to January 2021 and -4.5% compared to the previous month.

However, the home delivery expert ParcelHero says that any reports of e-commerce’s death are greatly exaggerated. ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘Online sales boomed to an extraordinary degree during the lockdowns. We are now seeing a natural rebalancing, as people return to High Streets that feel safer and more normal with the end of most Covid measures.

‘However, online sales still represent 25.3% of all total retail sales, a considerable increase on the 19.8% online took back in February 2020, just before Covid hit the UK. The e-commerce genie has been released from the bottle, and it can never be put back.

‘Of course, we expect to see further falls in year-on-year online sales throughout 2022, as retail adjusts to the new norm, but e-commerce sales will hold firm at around 25% of the retail market. Shoppers have discovered how convenient online ordering is for many kinds of shopping, from gifts to groceries.

‘We all hope for a High Street boom to bring life back to our town centres, and there are signs that shop closures are now slowing down. However, it should no longer be the case that one type of shopping wins at the expense of the other. Retailers are now aligning their physical and online sales more successfully, which should create a sustained period of growth in multichannel sales, led by initiatives such as improved ‘Buy Online Pick Up in Store’ (BOPIS) options.

‘ParcelHero’s influential report ‘2030: Death of the High Street’ has been discussed in Parliament. It reveals that, unless retailers develop an omnichannel approach, embracing both online and physical store sales, the High Street as we know it will reach a dead-end by 2030. Read the full report at: