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Smartphone set to overtake tablet in UK retail; uncertainty continues for Toys R Us

Smartphone purchases set to overtake the tablet by end of 2017

By the end of this year shoppers will have spent nearly £18bn using a smartphone – more than via a tablet computer, for the first time, according to eMarketer analysis. It says that 49.7% of all retail m-commerce sales will be made via smartphone in 2017, contrasted to 49.4% via tablet computer. The remaining amount is assigned to sales via a feature phone. eMarketer also predicts that by 2021, retail sales via smartphone will account for 56% of m-commerce sales.

Up to now, says eMarketer, UK shoppers’ use of tablet computers to buy has been among the highest in Europe. But, it says, growth has levelled off as people move towards large-screen smartphones.

Some 19% of UK retail sales are expected to have taken place online in 2017, estimates eMarketer, accounting for £83.55bn. It says that by 2021, more than a quarter (25.8%) of all retail sales will be digital.

“To put that into context, the proportion in the US will be less than half of the UK total this year, at just 9.0%,” said Bill Fisher, senior analyst at eMarketer. “Indeed, outside of China, the UK is the world’s most advanced retail ecommerce market in terms of proportional sales. And despite, or perhaps because of, the current economic uncertainty in the UK, ecommerce sales continue to post strong growth.”

The figures are part of eMarketer’s UK Retail and Ecommerce report, set to be released later this week.

Toys R Us approaches key date for its future in the UK

Toys R Us creditors will vote on Thursday on whether to approve a company voluntary arrangement that the firm predicts is likely to see at least 26 stores start to close in the spring. Reports suggest that the Pension Protection Fund is set to play a key role in the vote, and that if the state-backed fund refuses to approve the plans the whole company could go into administration with the loss of 3,200 jobs.

Malcolm Weir, director of restructuring and insolvency at the PPF, told The Guardian that the fund had yet to decide how to vote. “We are seeking to fully understand the current position of the company, including its future potential, position of the US parent and the reported historic financial transactions,” he said.

“The pension scheme is already underfunded and, if we were to vote in favour of the CVA, we would need actions taken that ensure the position of the pension scheme was not going to further weaken.”

But if the CVA is approved, Toys R Us plans to focus on online and smaller, interactive stores in the future.

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