UK shoppers set to spend £17.4bn online this Christmas: study

Happy woman with laptop near Christmas tree making online purchases

UK shoppers will spend a total of £17.4bn online this Christmas, according to a new study.

The Centre of Retail Research figures, commissioned by owner RetailMeNot, suggest growth of 19.5%, compared to the £14.5bn spent in 2013. Ecommerce sales, it’s forecast, will account for 23.4% of all sales in the six-week Christmas period from mid-November to Christmas. With £56.9bn expected to be spent on the high street – 2.1% less than last year – a total of some £74.3bn will be spent over the course of this year’s festive season.

A growing proportion of ecommerce sales will take place over mobile devices. An estimated 29.8% of all online Christmas sales will be over tablets and smartphones, 301% more than at the same time last year. Some £2.1bn is set to be spent over tablets and £3bn – or 18% – over smartphones. That said, the majority of sales will still take place over PC and laptop.

“This Christmas looks set to be a bumper year for online retailer as a record number of consumers will be turning to the web to order gifts,” said Giulio Montemagno, senior vice president of international at RetailMeNot. “With shoppers spending 23 pennies out of every pound online, retailers must ensure that they are appealing to consumers through mobile and tablet devices. The study reveals that almost 30% of all online Christmas sales will occur on mobile this year and in such a competitive retail environment it’s more important than ever that retailers have a solid mobile strategy in place to target shoppers as they shop online or in-store.”

The figures also uncover the extent to which Britons are more likely to shop online than shoppers elsewhere in the world. Some 23.4% of UK Christmas shopping is expected to take place online this year – well ahead of the 18.7% expected in the US. Elsewhere in Europe, 16.7% of German Christmas spending is expected to be over the internet, and 13% in France.

UK shoppers will also spend the most this Christmas, parting with an average £775 over the Christmas season, and in total spending £74.3bn, ahead of the £61.2bn set to be spent in Germany and £54.9bn in France.

Meanwhile, the IMRG surveyed senior ecommerce professionals to find 85% are expecting sales growth of more than 10% this year, while 45% are forecasting growth of 20% or more. Confidence was stronger among pureplay retailers, where 92% think they’ll see growth above 10%. Multichannel traders as a group are less confident, with 77% predicting growth of 10% or more.

Asked about delivery options and last order deadlines, three-quarters of multichannel retailers will offer alternative delivery methods, such as click and collect, reserve and collect, Sunday and Shutl delivery over Christmas, and 20% will offer in-store ordering. Only two in five pureplays will offer such alternative delivery methods.

The most common last order date for standard delivery before Christmas is expected to be December 19, and December 22 is the average date for final orders for premium delivery. Some 22% said they would be offering in-time premium delivery for shoppers ordering as late as December 23.

“The online retail industry is gearing up for another record-breaking Christmas,” said IMRG [IRDX VIMR] chief information officer Tina Spooner, “with estimated spend in December alone set to reach in excess of £12bn. This year convenience will be key in attracting the lucrative Christmas shoppers, and retailers that offer a range of delivery options are likely to be the winners during the festive period.”

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