February Outlook: Seasonality causes for a dip in online volumes, but Fashion and Food/Groceries do see an increase across markets

AfterPay Insights’ monthly forecast is back with this February outlook for e-commerce in the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, and UK. In this blog we map out consumers’ shopping intentions during this month. Do they intend to increase or decrease their online shopping in February? And which categories can we expect to grow or decline? Keep reading to find out.

Before we jump into the Feb-forecast, let’s rewind to see what went down in January, following the spending season. As December comes with a hockey-stick effect, January takes a hit and sees a big dip in online volumes. All four countries have a decrease: the Netherlands goes from 5.2 to 4.4 (-15%), Germany from 5.6 to 5.1 (-7%), Norway from 4.1 to 3.2 (-22%) and UK from 7 to 5.9 (-16%).

Let’s view it from the sunny side of the big drop

In the Q1-long run there will be a further decline in online volumes. But this is a normal occurrence after a season jam packed with sales events and holiday buying and gifting. All in all, this seems like a negative notion as the overall volumes are likely to decline. We will most probably have categories that will increase over the course of 2022’s first quarter. Below, we analyze consumers - both from a total shopping perspective as well as when it comes to online purchases.

Four times Fashion focus:

Overall, we see the Fashion product category will continue to be the online locomotive in the Netherlands, Germany and Norway. Fashion is the dominant online category in these three countries. The UK has a double engine: Fashion and Food & groceries. Food and Groceries is as large as Fashion in terms of monthly online shoppers.

Netherlands: after a definite number 1, there are many runners up.

Fashion is the largest and only growing online category in February. Not too much movement going on in the Dutch market. Looking into January data we see the same thing going on. 28% of Dutch online shoppers make at least one online purchase in Fashion. From a category size perspective, there are quite a few categories in 2nd place. Electronics/Telecom, Health/Health Food Products, Beauty/Cosmetics, Hobby Articles, Food/Groceries & Take Away all see about 10% of online shoppers.

Germany and Norway: Fashion first, then Media/Electronics and Health/Food Products follow.

Germany’s and Norway’s February Favorite is fore sure Fashion. Especially when we isolate online purchases (vs. overall online and offline combined): Fashion is the category where we expect growth or at least upholding volumes, as overall online purchase volumes expect to decline.

When we look at planned purchases online and offline combined, we expect Media/Entertainment and Food/Health products to have an increase in total purchases, too

Similar results are visible regarding the January month. 26% of German and 23% of Norwegian online shoppers make at least one online purchase in the Fashion category, Electronics/Telecom comes next with 16% (DE) and 11% (NO). Two categories take third place in Germany with 13%: Media/Entertainment and Health/Food. Norway’s number two and three are Electronics (11%) and Cosmetics 10%). These categories are the biggest in terms of online shoppers. But when we look at the growth expectation, then Media/Entertainment is one of the biggest categories to grow, along with Fashion and Health/Health Foods.

UK: Food & Groceries and Fashion continue pulling the online shopping-train

Food/groceries is the category where we can expect growth or at least a shift of purchases from visiting physical stores to purchasing online. Beside Food/Groceries, Fashion always remains high in the share of online volumes. These two categories are the online shopping driving force in the UK.

When we include offline shopping, then the Media/Entertainments category stands out where consumers state they will increase total purchases in February. Media/Entertainment’s category increase is expected to be predominately in brick-and-mortar stores.

January data is not much different. 28% of UK online shoppers make at least one purchase in Fashion in January – but 27% also makes at least one online purchase in Food/Groceries. These two categories dominate UK online shopping.
From a category size perspective, Beauty/Cosmetics comes in 3rd place with 14% of online shoppers in January.
What’s next?
Already two blogs in this month and it is just the beginning. We have many interesting findings that we are currently molding into another blog. What it is exactly remains a surprise. Stay tuned to find out what it is we are working on.