Record online sales brighten Christmas for UK retailers

Friday, 10 January 2014
Record online sales brighten Christmas for UK retailersAlthough mixed Christmas trading results have been reported over the last few weeks for British retailers, one sector that saw positive growth in December was the non-food online sales sector. The online sales of non-food products in the UK increased 19.2 percent in December, 2013 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest figures released the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and KPMG.

In a report sent out Friday, the BRC-KPMG highlighted the online sales growth during December was the strongest increase seen this year and the best growth since March 2010. Online sales represented 18.6 percent of total non-food sales according to the BRC-KPMG monitor, compared to 16.5 percent in December 2012.

OnlineRecord online sales brighten Christmas for UK retailers non-food sales account for nearly 20 percent of spending in December

Helen Dickinson, general director at the BRC commented: “As expected, more of us clicked into Christmas than ever before, with online non-food sales growth putting in its best performance since March 2010 and accounting for nearly 20 percent of spending. The surge in the use of tablets and smartphones last year, together with the ever faster delivery times achieved by an increasing number of retailers, have provided a new spur of growth to online shopping.”

“Multichannel built on its strong position across all stages of the customer journey, from browsing and comparing prices to buying and collecting in-store. Retailers have invested significantly in their websites and delivery times, and this enhanced offer clearly struck a chord with customers who valued flexibility, choice and convenience whenever and wherever they did their shopping,” added Dickinson.

The largest recorded week for online transactions fell two weeks before Christmas, on the week starting on December 8, similar to 2012. According to the data, without the positive effect of online sales, the total non-food store sales would have faced great difficultly reaching definite growth.

OnlineRecord online sales brighten Christmas for UK retailers fashion sales account for 21.2 percent of non-food online sales in December

The data also indicated that online fashion sales made a “sizeable” impact on the overall growth of non-food online sales. Online clothing sales increased at the second fastest rate this year, encouraged by widespread discounting and heavy demand after weak sales witnessed during Fall, with online fashion sales according for 21.2 percent of non-food online sales in December, up from 18 percent during the same period last year. Popular fashion purchases made online include items such as Christmas jumpers and onesies.

Online sales of footwear stayed strong during December as well, accounting for 26.3 percent of non-food online sales, compared with 23 percent from December, 2012 the biggest percentage increase witnessed among the online categories measured. A number of retailers point out that poor weather conditions also helped boost non-food online sales, as the windy and rainy weather encouraged people to stay home.

The data published by the BRC and KPMG under lines the importance for UK retailers to invest in improving their online offering and stores in order to provide their customers with a seamless shopping experience. More and more consumers are turning to mobile devices for online shopping, a growing trend that is likely to continue in 2014. UK retailers such as John Lewis and House of Fraser have reported strong non-food online sales, which boosted overall sales and led to a positive Christmas trading period.

David McCorquodale, head of retail at KPMG said: “With one in five items bought on the internet in December, this really was an online Christmas for the retail sector. The statistics show that whilst store sales continue to flatline, online sales remain the main driver of growth for the sector, contributing nearly three quarters of the uptick in non-food sales in the last quarter of 2013.”

“The winners this Christmas were those retailers with slick multichannel operations, who could offer consumers the flexibility to shop how, and when, they wanted to. Retailers now need to focus on the ‘last mile’ and figure out how to get the item to the customer even faster. Retailers who can offer same day delivery, at a reasonable price, will be the winners in the race for sales in 2014, and steal a march on their competitors,” concluded McCorquodale.

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