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Christmas spending moved further online in December: ONS

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Online won a fifth of all retail spending in December, while overall sales were up the previous year, but down on the previous month

Shoppers spent £1.9bn online in December with UK retailers – equivalent to a fifth (20%) of all retail spending –  according to new official figures. Ecommerce sales grew by 13.9% over the course of the month, compared to the same month last year.

The rise in spending online, reported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), came as shoppers spent more across all channels in December 2018 than they did a year previously, but less than they had a month previously. 

Shoppers spent 3.1% more in December 2018 than they did a year earlier (excluding automotive fuel) to buy 3% more goods, according to the ONS Retail Sales report for December 2018 But they spent 1.1% less than they did in November 2018, and bought 1.3% fewer goods.

Looking at the longer-term trend, sales were up in value (+3.5%) and volume (+2.9%) over the last three months, October to December 2018, compared to the same time in the previous year, but they were down in value (-0.3%) and volume (-0.4%) compared to the previous three months of July to September 2018. The ONS report said that while the general long-term trend was one of growth, year-on-year, sales had slowed in recent months between September and December, with shoppers buying fewer non-essential items in December. 

Online sales, however, were broadly in growth, both compared to a year earlier and a month earlier. Overall ecommerce sales rose by 13.9% in December 2018 compared to December 2017, and by 2.9% in December 2018 compared to November 2018. Sales grew across all categories compared to a year earlier, when department stores (+12.8%), textile, clothing and footwear stores (+15%), household goods stores (+18%), and food (+3.7%) were all in growth as were those retailers, largely pureplays, that do not have stores (+19.1%). Sales at online stores outside these categories fell by 2.4%. 

Compared to November 2018, ecommerce sales were a mixed picture. They grew still more strongly across department stores  (+17.2%), and food retailers (+9.8%), but less strongly among textile, clothing and footwear stores (+11.2) and non-store retailers (+0.5%), and saw a sharp decline among household goods stores (-17.9%). 

Image: Fotolia

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