March brought the first of the UKs unlocking milestones- the ability to meet in groups in outdoor spaces. COVID regulations changed at the end of the Month, (w/c Monday 29th), but it still had a large influence in the purchasing habits of the public in the build up to the changes. Marchs impressive 71.7% Year-on-Year growth was largely driven by the Clothing and Home & Garden categories…Both of which it seems, were fuelled by purchases for meeting others and accommodating guests in garden spaces.

Its worth noting that all Year-on-Year comparisons are being made against March 2020, which included the start of a UK lockdown and two weeks of highstreet retail being closed. The period signalled the beginning of a boom in ecommerce. This years performance deserves extra credit for posting such a high result over a strong comparator from 2020. For example, week 3 of March 2020 reported 36% YoY uplift, but Week 3 in March 2021 still managed 71% YoY.

The Clothing category reported a blockbuster 75.9% uplift in March- the sector is starting see the benefits of a weak comparator from early lockdown last year. In 2020 it started the lockdown period with a dismal performance that is causing current YoY growth rates to look spectacular. For example, menswear reported -36.7% YOY growth in March 2020, one year later it reported 53.8% growth. IMRG wanted to see if the current clothing levels are actually back to ‘pre-pandemic’ rates, so we looked at the combined revenue from the largest 5 clothing retailers in our panel from March 2021, and compared it to January 2020. Impressively, March 2021 clothing revenue was 65% higher that January 2020.

April will bring another month of favourable comparison for Clothing, but it will also start to show some tough comparators for categories that benefited at the start of lockdown -Electricals, Home & Garden and Beauty. It also brings the re-opening of the UK high street so next months figures should be very interesting.

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