It’s official: snow held ecommerce back this Christmas

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Snowy weather held back the potential growth of online shopping this Christmas, according to British Retail Consortium figures out today.

For while ecommerce sales grew by 18% in December 2010, the Christmas effect failed to give the boost that might have been expected. As a result, growth remained on a par with that shown in November.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, said: “It’s clear any gains from snow-bound shoppers switching to the internet were more than outweighed by the damage to sales from the delivery difficulties which forced some retailers to restrict online ordering at times during the month.”

He added: “An 18 per cent increase in the value of sales is impressive but Christmas didn’t accelerate growth in 2010 as it had done the previous year. In 2009 December’s growth was almost ten percentage points higher than November’s. This time the two months were virtually the same.”

Nonetheless ecommerce fared better than retail as a whole. December saw like-for-like sales across all retail categories fall by 0.3%, the BRC figures showed. In December 2009, they had risen by 4.2%.

Meanwhile, figures from online performance optimisation consultants Logan Tod & Co showed that the rate of growth will slow further next Christmas. Its Annual Online Shopping Index predicts online sales will grow by between 12% and 17% over Christmas 2011 compared to between 15% and 20% for Christmas 2010.

However, one group expects to spend much more online next Christmas. Those aged between 25 and 34, the group known as ‘digital natives’ say they will lay out 36% more come December 2011. Of this group, 48% said they had done ‘as much as they possibly could’ of their shopping online this year, compared to 22% of ‘digital migrants’, aged 45 and over.

Matthew Tod, chief executive at Logan Tod & Co, said: “It is clear that there is potential growth to tap into this year, but selecting your audience is crucial. Different segments have very different needs and the retailers who tailor their online experience, or can match online experience closely, will prosper.”

The survey also asked its respondents which were the best and worst online shopping experiences of Christmas 2010 in order to create an overall score that weighed positive responses against negative ones. Amazon came top with a score of 90%, followed by Boots (80%), Play.com (75%), Debenhams (72%) and Argos (67%).

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