Jan 18, 2017
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Lingerie, accessories and shoes get boost as UK websites take in £133bn in 2016

Jan 18, 2017

Britain retained its status as one of the key e-tail markets last year with a new report saying consumers spent £133bn online at UK retailers in 2016, up 16% and £18bn more than the amount spent in 2015.

According to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, lingerie, accessories and footwear were the big beneficiaries as Britons increased  their online spending in these areas above the average growth rate.

Lingerie was a key beneficiary as UK websites saw soaring sales last year - Figleaves.com

Accessories and lingerie witnessed the biggest increase in online sales throughout 2016 – up 38% and 33% respectively. Gifts came next, up 26%, followed by footwear, which rose a healthy 21%. Surprisingly though, online sales of health and beauty products were down 3%.

The year’s overall 16% growth exceeded the initial forecast of 11% and reversed a trend of declining growth rates. For 2017, IMRG and Capgemini have forecast online retail will record a further 14% growth.  

Why did 2016 see such a strong uptick? It's all about the smartphone. The researchers attributed the performance to the continued growth of m-commerce and said that in December alone, sales made via smartphones were up 47% year-on-year. Meanwhile sales made on tablets were down 3% as phone screens got larger and allowed people to shop at any time, anywhere.

IMRG and Capgemini also said £25bn was spent online during the Christmas trading period from November 13 to December 24 – also a 16% increase. This was perhaps a surprise given that events like Black Friday and the overall online focus over the Christmas period could have been assumed to have driven a larger increase.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini, said: “2016 was a turbulent year [and] few would have anticipated the decline in sales made on tablets. But with sales made through overall mobile devices generating over 50% of visits, combined with the sweeping growth of both visits and conversions from smartphones, mobile continues to head towards being the number one sales channel.”

Justin Opie, managing director at IMRG added: “Following a below-expectation year in 2015, online sales growth has shot back up to an extent that seemed highly unlikely at the start of the year. There are two key factors driving this. The first is that Black Friday became an ‘online’ event in 2015, and this seems to have had a lasting effect on people’s shopping behaviour and preferences – our Index has recorded strong growth for online sales ever since that day.

“The second is that sales through smartphones are continuing to grow at a very strong rate, which is increasing the times and places in which people can browse and engage with online retailers.”

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