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UK shoppers set to spend £5bn online this Christmas

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UK shoppers will spend £5bn online this Christmas, 19% more than in 2012, new research suggests.

The fast ecommerce growth will come as total Christmas retail sales hit £40.3bn, 3.5% more than last year, says business adviser Deloitte. But, it warns, multichannel retailers who do not offer a click and collect service risk missing out on that online growth.

“After last year’s click-and-collect Christmas, consumers’ expectations around flexible delivery over the coming festive period are higher than ever before,” said Ian Geddes, UK head of retail at Deloitte. “Store collection is now seen as a basic offering and those retailers without this capability will struggle to convert online sales and lose resulting footfall in-store.

“This year, the consumer will be challenging retailers’ ability to deliver a sofa at home in a specified time-slot; transfer a party dress to their local store for same day collection and drop off their Christmas DVDs at a convenient locker.”

Categories likely to do particularly good business, according to Deloitte, include homewares and department stores, along with clothing if current cold weather continues. Food is expected to “remain competitive” and electricals retailers will be hoping for strong sales of tablets and games consoles.

“The forecast will provide some Christmas cheer for retailers,” said Geddes. “Shoppers are expected to loosen purse strings off the back of rising consumer confidence and improving economic conditions.”

Deloitte also cited its own recent research that suggested 47% of UK consumers think empty high street shops would be useful sites for online collections, and that 36% would like to pick up small goods from a dedicated collection point such as a locker or an independent store near their home or work.

Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte, said: “Innovators in the market continue to raise the bar, developing new fulfilment options to cater for consumers’ needs. For example, some retailers are able to deliver within 90 minutes, whilst others are offering Sunday deliveries, drive-through pick-up points and even collection from your tube station within four hours of ordering.

“However they must balance this against the cost of delivery and recognise the infrastructure and systems that need to be in place to ensure a reliable and efficient service. Retailers are under pressure to secure sales and customer loyalty but ultimately, they need to turn a profit in the process.”

Commenting on the growth in sales, Shingo Murakami, MD of Rakuten’s , said: “Year after year, more Britons are turning to their computers rather than the tills, and it is online and multichannel retailers that will reap the rewards of seasonal shoppers this Christmas. Retailers today must have a strong multichannel offering and a clear digital strategy, including reward opportunities, incentives and of course, great customer service.”

Deloitte’s ecommerce growth forecast came as John Lewis said its weekly sales had gone through the £100m barrier for the second week in a row. Sales hit £111.9m in the week to November 23, with online sales at up by 9.4%.

Maggie Porteous, director selling operations at John Lewis , said: ‘It has been pleasing to see sales surpassing the £100m mark for the second time this month with strong figures coming from both our shops and online.”

At sister company Waitrose sales were up by 6.5% overall during the week, but online sales grew by 43.5%. That growth, said Waitrose, came “as many shoppers chose to carry out their grocery shop from the comfort of their own home or on the go using a mobile or tablet device. Together they accounted for nearly a third of traffic.”

Click & collect orders with were at their highest level yet at double the same time last year.

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