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Retailers plan for strong online growth this Christmas, but consumers are uncertain

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Retailers are expecting strong growth in online sales this Christmas – but consumers are not so sure, a new survey suggests.

Some 25 retailers and more than 2,000 consumers took part in a study carried out by personalisation provider Peerius. It found that 88% of retailers expect to enjoy ecommerce growth of 20% or more this Christmas, with an optimistic 25% expecting internet sales growth of 50% or more.

However, 66% of consumers who expect to shop online this Christmas say that they will spend the same as last year. Some 16% expect to spend less and only 17% expect to spend more. Those expecting to spend more predict an average rise of 26%. Last year, online sales grew by 18%, but Peerius says its results suggest this Christmas will fall well short of that.

“These findings are a timely reminder for retailers that there is absolutely no room for complacency,” said Roger Doddy, director at Peerius. “If retailers are to deliver the online sales performance they are hopng for, and on which survival may well depend, the hard word starts now because it appears that delivering growth will mean taking a larger share of spend, rather than benefitting from significantly higher spending overall.”

The research also suggests that retailers don’t always predict consumers’ demands correctly. While 31% of retailers believe that customers want lower prices, 68% of consumers say they do. Some 31% of retailers agree that consumers want more helping finding what they want – something that 15% of consumers agree with. Then 31% of retailers believe consumers want a more personal service, but that’s a priority for only 8% of consumers. And while no retailers thought consumers wanted more choice, 36% of consumers said they did. Asked what would make them more likely to shop online than instore, 43% cited flexible delivery options.

“Clearly, delivering an engaging and successful online experience this Christmas is far more complex, taking in a great deal more than choice, price and service, but it is worrying nonetheless to see retailers so out of step with consumer views,” said Doddy.

“They are going to have to get a much better handle on what their customers really want if they are going to deliver revenue growth this Christmas, without damaging profitability by resorting to price cuts to compete. Similarly, it is vital that retailers understand very clearly what consumers dislike about online retail experiences, and deal with any issues now. Otherwise they risk losing out on revenue thanks to small issues that are very easily fixed.”

Consumers’ top ten pet hates

1. Websites with pop-up advertising (40%)

2. Badly organised websites that make it hard to find what I am looking for (38%)

3. Websites that are slow (30%)

4. Websites with pop-up surveys (28%)

5. Websites with insufficient product information (26%)

6. Wesites that tell me a product is out of stock after I have bought it (26%)

7. Websites that display search results that are not relevant to the products I searched for (23%)

8. Websites that tell me they use cookies every time I go to a new page (18%)

9. Websites that present product recommendations that are totally inappropriate (9%)

10. Websites that promote products I have already bought, either on the site or via email (7%) and websites that are hard to use on a mobile phone (7%)

(Source: Peerius)

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