Online food orders soared 99.2% in October and web sales grew 60.1% year on year, sparking warnings that operators will need to review their planning ahead of the Christmas peak.

October’s retail sales estimates, released today (20 November) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), reveal sales volumes rose by 5.8% year on year, up by 1.2% from September’s results.

However, home delivery specialist ParcelHero said the figures don’t reflect the impact of the second lockdown, which only started in November.

Head of consumer research, David Jinks MILT, also said the lion’s share of the increase was led by online sales which points to increasing delivery problems over Christmas.

"There are some truly astonishing figures for online sales this October," he said. "Food sales were up 99.2% year-on-year to gobble 10.4% of the entire groceries market. All in all, e-commerce now grabs 28.5% of all UK retail sales.

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"To put this into perspective we only need to look back to February, the last month before the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Compared to that pre-lockdown period, overall High Street and online sales have increased by 7.9% which is encouraging. However, this has been largely driven by a strong increase in sales online at 52.8%, in comparison to reduced store sales at -3.3%.

"All this is great news for online retailers, who even saw a 4.1% jump in sales over September’s strong results, but this surge in home deliveries points to an intensely busy seasonal peak.

"Both consumers and retailers need to carefully plan this year to avoid the impact of this Mount Everest of Christmas peaks."