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UK shoppers spent £91bn online in 2013 – and look set to spend £107bn in 2014

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UK shoppers spent £91bn online in 2013, according to new figures.

The internet retailing market grew by 16% during the course of the year, according to the IMRG-Capgemini eRetail Sales Index for December. It was capped by a final month in which online sales rose by 18%, with £11bn spent up from £9bn in December 2012. Twice as much was spent via mobile devices as was spent using them in December 2012. The figures beat IMRG’s original estimate, last January of 12% growth.

The IMRG now forecasts 17% growth in 2014, and estimates £107bn will be spent online over the year. The etailing trade association estimates that 21% of retail sales now take place online.

IMRG chief information officer Tina Spooner said:”With online shopping having become part of our everyday lives, the growth levels we are seeing in the e-retail market won’t be slowing down any time soon.

“We predict that the UK online retail market will achieve 17% year-on-year growth during 2014 and we also expect the £100 billion threshold will be broken, with a staggering £107bn predicted to be spent online in the UK alone this year.”

M-commerce has largely driven the growth, says IMRG. Sales via smartphones and tablets grew by 138% in 2013, compared to the previous year. Some 27% of all online sales, worth £3bn, were placed on a mobile device. Of those mobile sales, 82% were from tablet computers. The figure was up by 131% on the same time last year. Meanwhile, sales from a smartphone rose by 186%.

The expansion of click and collect services played a role in the growth of mobile commerce, with 25% of multichannel retail sales now made using such mechanisms.

Sectors that saw particular growth in December included clothing (up by 17% on the same time in the previous year) and electrical goods (18%). Multichannel retailers’ figures grew by 16% in December.

“Shopping has become a leisurely activity for many of us and mobile devices have fundamentally altered the way that consumers engage with brands,” said Spooner. “Often we browse on our smartphones during our morning commute and ‘sofa surf’ in the evenings on our tablet devices. With mobile and tablets now accounting for almost 4 in 10 visits to e-retail websites and 27% of the UK online retail market, we expect growth to continue throughout 2014 with m-retail set to account for 30% of online sales during the first quarter.”

Chris Webster, head of retail and technology at Capgemini , said: “For the first time in three years, we have seen the year-on-year rate of growth of e-retail accelerate from 14% in 2012 to 16% in 2013. This performance has been fuelled by a variety of factors, not least the huge leaps in mobile technology, which has given a whole new section of society access to the internet and enabled the more tech savvy amongst us to shop while on the move. Combined with greater choice of delivery and collection options, as well as improved retail trading, the e-retail sector has all the ingredients for ongoing success.”

Mark Lewis, online director at John Lewis , said the department store group had enjoyed a strong Christmas, with online sales up by 22.6% in the five weeks to the end of December.

“Online now accounts for around 30% of overall sales, up from 25% in 2012,” he said. “Two stand-out milestones for us were the 61.8% rise in Click & Collect orders and a shift to traffic from mobile devices making up over half of traffic to

“Our customers continue to evolve how they shop, and are increasingly blending stores, online and mobile devices. With strong results from our shops as well, December 2013 was a truly omnichannel Christmas.”

Sean McKee, head of commerce and customer services at Schuh, said: “Online had another strong Christmas season at Schuh, with the strongest like-for-like performances coming from winter boot product, and trading records set on all of the key days in the calendar.

“In particular, Mondays 9th, 16th and 23rd December were excellent (best one being 16th) but the standout days were Christmas Day and Boxing Day which were phenomenal.

“Consumption of services by customers was once again all about speed of fulfilment. At this stage, it is trite to still talk about Christmas being ‘mobile’ but with two thirds of traffic coming from mobile devices on 25th and 26th, there is little else to describe it. As predicted, tablet has made further inroads into the traffic mix. All in all, a pleasing season in a tough environment and we are glad it is behind us.”

• Meanwhile, the ONS Retail Sales Bulletin for December estimated that online sales grew by 11.8% during the month, while total retail sales grew by 6.1% in value.

IMRG is bringing its Knowledge Lounge to IRX 2014. Retailers can book a 15-minute session in advance and get free advice on a specific area of their business from an industry expert. Areas that will be covered include logistics, digital and mobile. Find out more here, and find out more about IRX 2014 and register for the free event here.

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