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Mobile shopping drives UK retail e-commerce sales, study says

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More than a quarter of all online sales in the UK take place via smartphones and tablets; by 2018, that figure will near two in five. So finds new figures from eMarketer, which suggests that shopping on mobile devices will account for a rapidly growing share of UK retail e-commerce sales and is expected to contribute to strong e-commerce sales growth this year.

eMarketer estimates that UK retail e-commerce sales will rise 16.0% this year, helped by an improving economy, shoppers’ increasing use of mobile devices for making purchases, and expanded options for purchase delivery. Total retail sales in the UK, by contrast, will grow by just 3.6% in 2014, and movement will slow after that. Meanwhile, the growth trajectory for m-commerce sales is even steeper, with a predicted 64.8% rise this year.

“M-commerce is seeing such good growth for a couple of reasons: Mobile device ownership is rising rapidly, and consumers are becoming more comfortable making purchases on these devices. Tablets, in particular, offer a larger and more tactile interface for online shopping, which is why we’re seeing particularly fast growth in tablet commerce,” explains Bill Fisher, UK analyst at eMarketer.

Tablet sales are growing considerably faster than smartphone sales in the UK, even though smartphone usage is far more common than tablet usage. Tablets-with their larger, more inviting screens and their general use at home in the evenings, typically via broadband connection-will contribute roughly double the level of sales than smartphones will this year, accounting for nearly two-thirds of total UK m-commerce sales.

Most non-tablet-based m-commerce sales occur on smartphones. eMarketer expects tablet-based retail m-commerce sales to more than double from £9.28 billion ($14.50 billion) this year to £20.96 billion ($32.75 billion) by 2018. And, for the first time this year, more individuals in the UK will make purchases via tablets than via smartphones, at a projected 16.4 million vs. 15.4 million.

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