Despite restrictions easing and people returning to the shops, there are some things we’re buying online more, notably in the categories of “clothing”, “electrical household appliances”, and “sports equipment, games and toys”.
Inflation and the cost-of-living are also causing people to reduce their delayable expenditure and how much food they are buying.
Different sources of spending data give us various insights, we are going to use three sources for the analysis in this article.
For context, let’s start with what’s happening to our spending overall.
Online spending high but falling
Overall, we’re still spending substantially more online than before the coronavirus pandemic. In May 2022, seasonally adjusted internet sales accounted for 26.6% of all official retail sales, compared with 19.7% in February 2020.
Although online shopping has been a growing behaviour over several years, the pandemic appears to have accelerated the trend.
However, in recent months, we have started shifting back towards shopping in store, although spending online remains high.
Online shopping falling back towards pre-pandemic trend
Percentage of retail sales made online, by seasonally adjusted value
The blue shaded areas refer to periods when restrictions across the UK were in effect. Restrictions varied across UK nations and display is limited to three main periods. Further details can be found in our About the data section below.
This trend is also borne out in an experimental real-time source, Revolut transactions data. Among Revolut debit card users, the proportion of transactions that are made online also saw peaks during lockdowns and has been falling in recent months. This data source shows online spending is now at around 38%, relative to 62% in store.
Revolut users are typically younger and more metropolitan, which may account for some of the differences in figures when we compare this data with the official retail sales index and other sources, as younger people are more likely to shop online. Since the pandemic began, there may also be more in-store transactions recorded through card use as a result of people switching to cashless transactions.