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Online spending grew at its slowest for more than two years in December: ONS

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Online spending grew at its slowest for more than two years in December, thanks in part to the Black Friday phenomenon, official figures showed today.

UK shoppers spent £741.9m a week online in December 2014, according to today’s Office for National Statistics Retail Sales bulletin for December 2014. The figure was 8% up on December 2013, but down on the £763.3m spent each week in November 2014.

Overall, shoppers spent 1.9% more across all channels than they did in December 2013, but they bought 4.3% more goods – thanks to a 2.2% fall in average store prices.

December’s 8% increase in online spending was the lowest year-on-year growth recorded by the bulletin since November 2012, when it increased by only 6.9%. “A contributing factor for this low growth,” said the ONS bulletin, “is that the Black Friday phenomenon was included in the December 2013 reporting period, but was not included in the estimates for December 2014.”

December’s growth was slower than the year as a whole: online spending grew by 11.8% in 2014, the ONS estimates, as shoppers spent an average £718.7m. That was 11.8% up on 2013 and more than double the £341.7m spent online five years ago, in 2009.

During December, online spending in department stores fell by 2.2% – the first time year-on-year spending has fallen in this category. Some 10.3% of all spending in the month took place online. At the other end of the scale, online spending in household goods shops rose by 24%, to account for 6.8% of all spending in the category.

ONS figures show that of every pound spent online in 2014, 15p was spent in food stores, and 37p in non-food stores. That divides into 9p in department stores, 14p in textile, clothing and footwear stores, 5p in household good stores, and 9p in other stores. Some 48p was spent in non-store retailing.

The latest IMRG MetaPack Delivery Index shows parcel volumes in 2014 were 16% ahead of 2013. The index now forecasts that they will be 13% ahead, year-on-year, in 2015.

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