Nov 10, 2016
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UK online sales grow faster than expected thanks to m-commerce

Nov 10, 2016

With fashion consistently showing up as the top online product category, news that online retail sales have been far stronger in the UK than expected this year should cheer up the battered retail sector.

UK online sales growth is being driven by smartphones

IMRG and Capgemini said Thursday that online retail sales are up 15.1% for the year-to-September, beating earlier projections of an 11% rise.

This is despite declining growth in recent years. 2015 saw just an 11% rise that lagged the original 12% forecast. Growth had been 14% in 2014 and 16% in 2013.

The strong 2016 rise is likely to continue into the final quarter of this year, as shoppers look to make purchases before 2017 starts. Many retailers have flagged likely price rises early next year on spring/summer collections due to the weakness of the pound and higher costs as currency hedging contracts come to an end.

IMRG-Capgemini also said that this month’s Black Friday, which was largely an online shopping event last year, will further boost sales.

The Brexit vote appears to have had little or no impact on e-tail growth with the July to September quarter actually seeing a growth acceleration to 17%, the highest rate since Q1 2014.

IMRG MD Justin Opie said the last time a declining trend was reversed was when the tablet revolution started earlier this decade. This time he thinks smartphones are giving the market a similar boost by extending the times and locations when people can shop online. Growth for smartphone m-commerce has surged over 80% this year, compared to just 5.5% for tablets.

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