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UK online spending rises by 11% to £114bn in 2015, and by 12% to £24bn over Christmas: IMRG

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UK retailers took £24bn over Christmas – and £114bn in the whole of 2015, new figures from IMRG and Capgemini suggest today.

Christmas sales over an eight week period between November 1 and December 1 were estimated at 12% higher than the same time last year, and slightly ahead of the 2015 twelvemonth average of 11%.

The IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index estimates that some 27% of retail sales now take place online – and forecasts 11% growth in 2016, when it predicts ecommerce sales will rise to £126bn. It also said that all growth in the year had been driven by the rise of mobile: m-commerce grew by 42% during the year and 45% of sales were made via a mobile device in the third quarter of the year.

The year also saw online spending move towards the discretionary, with sales of gifts, health and beauty and travel up by 18%, 22% and 16% respectively in 2015, compared to 2014. Electricals sales were up by 3%, year-on-year, and clothing by 11%. Home and garden sales fell by 2%, year-on-year.

Focusing on Christmas, the Index findings suggest that Black Friday week, starting November 22, was the busiest of the period, with estimated sales of £4.3bn up by 62%. That’s well ahead of the 44% growth recorded during the same period in 2014. In 2013, when Black Friday was yet to be introduced, growth in the equivalent week came in at 20%.

Alex Smith-Bingham, head of digital, Capgemini , said: “2015 has been another massive year in terms of consumer spending, but what the index reveals is just how dominant the online channels have become. In just two years Black Friday has shifted from a high-street event to an online one, with retailers extending their discounting over a week, rather than a single day. We also saw mobile confirm its role as a primary shopping channel, providing consumers with an unprecedented level of convenience. In 2016 I’m confident we’ll see this influence increase even further with mobile representing over half of all sales made online.”

Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG said: “Rounding off a mixed year for e-retail, where we saw single-digit growth in several months, the UK online retail industry recorded a solid performance in December, with sales growth significantly higher than the same month in 2014. With December being the wettest since records began, it appears the unseasonal weather, together with growth in mobile commerce helped to boost online sales over the festive period. As we observed in 2014, the effect of Black Friday resulted in November being the peak month for the online retail industry as consumers brought forward much of their Christmas spending, no doubt boosted by promotional activity around Black Friday.

“Sales via smartphones continue to grow at a significantly higher rate than those via tablets, with sales growth during December reaching the highest recorded during 2015 at 117.5% year-on-year. While tablets continue to account for the largest share of mobile commerce, significantly, during December four in 10 m-retail sales were completed on a smartphone, compared with 28% penetration in December 2014.”

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