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UK shoppers spent less online in January, with more purchases via mobile, click and collect and BNPL, says Adobe

Image: Adobe Stock

UK shoppers spent less online in January than a year earlier, but bought a higher proportion via mobile, click and collect and BNPL, new analysis suggests.

Shoppers cut back on their online spending in January 2023, compared to a year earlier, new analysis suggests. They also made more of their purchases through mobile devices, while the proportion of sales made using buy-now-pay-later payment methods grew at a time of cost-of-living issues. 

The latest Adobe Digital Economy Index, which analyses billions of online transactions across 100m SKUs (stock keeping units) via Adobe Analytics, suggests that UK shoppers spent £8bn online in January. That’s 1.4% less than a year earlier – but 39% higher than in pre-pandemic January 2020. 

This January, a greater share of ecommerce spending was via mobile, with 59.7% of purchases – worth £4.7bn – taking place via the channel. That’s 10.3% higher than last January.

Some 12% of online transactions involved buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) services. That’s up from 10.7% a year earlier. The average order value using online BNPL was also higher (+18%) as shoppers look to spread the cost of larger and more expensive items. 

Click and collect was used for 8.2% of online orders in January – up from historic levels of about 6%. This, says Adobe, may be as shoppers look to reduce the amount spent on delivery charges without spending extra to reach free delivery thresholds. 

“Taking into account the increased pressure on consumer spending power this year compared with 2022, a year-on-year drop of just 1.4% in January online spending shows that the post-Christmas sales period still holds great importance for retailers and shoppers alike,” says Suzanne Steele, vice president and managing director for Adobe in the UK. “While last week’s suggestion from the Bank of England that inflation may have peaked is good news in the mid to long-term, the increased use of buy-now-pay-later services to spread the cost of January purchases shows that consumers are still keeping a close eye on their finances in the short term.”

Cold weather products such as heated blankets, hot water bottles and thermal curtains all proved popular, while demand continued for holiday electronics such as AirPods, tablets, laptops and gaming consoles. 

Commenting on the rising use of BNPL shown by the figures, Rebecca Crook, chief growth officer at digital consultancy CI&T, says this is a growing trend that looks set to continue. 

“The key for success for any BNPL scheme is the ease in which it’s accessible to consumers,” says Crook. “Brands that invest in seamless, easy to use online experiences for customers (including fast approval) will be the winners as consumers look to still treat themselves but to spread the cost. 

“BNPL can be convenient but companies need to ensure they are lending money ethically because in the UK the BNPL industry is currently unregulated. While the government has set out some plans for new rules to improve customer protection (including affordability checks), nothing is currently in place leaving potentially the UK’s most vulnerable consumers at risk.”

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