UK 2015 online holiday sales grow 12%

January 15, 2016 02:32 PM

Online retailers in the United Kingdom got a nice Christmas gift in 2015: U.K. shoppers spent 24 billion pounds ($34 billion), a 12% increase from 2014.

Those shoppers spent the most freely during the week beginning Nov. 22, which includes the Friday after Thanksgiving. U.K. shoppers have adopted that day, known as Black Friday, as a day of bargains even though Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday in the U.K.

Although only promoted by web retailers for the past two holiday periods, online sales increased 62% during that Black Friday week compared with the same week last year, with shoppers forking over an estimated 4.3 billion pounds ($6.2 billion), according to data in a report released Thursday by U.K. e-retail association Interactive Media in Retail Group and Capgemini. Black Friday week sales for the same period in 2014 grew 44%, compared with 20% growth in 2013, before retailers began promoting Black Friday web sales in the U.K.

The report, based on the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, defined the Christmas holiday period as the eight weeks between Nov. 1 and Dec. 26.

Online shopping might have gotten a boost from the weather, says Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG. “With December being the wettest since records began, it appears the unseasonal weather, together with growth in mobile commerce helped to boost online sales over the festive period,” Spooner says. “As we observed in 2014, the effect of Black Friday resulted in November being the peak month for the online retail industry as consumers brought forward much of their Christmas spending, no doubt boosted by promotional activity around Black Friday.”

Smartphone sales in December grew 117.5% year over year, Spooner says. “While tablets continue to account for the largest share of mobile commerce, significantly, during December four in 10 m-retail sales were completed on a smartphone, compared with 28% penetration in December 2014,” she says.

Another holiday shopping report found that 89% of 176 U.K. mums, or mothers, used retailers’ click-and-collect services in 2015, compared with just under two-thirds in 2014. The study of click and collect, the U.K. term for goods bought online and picked up in a store, was conducted online in December by U.K. marketing and merchandising consultant Visual Thinking. The survey was limited to mothers who were the sole or shared purchase decision-makers and who made any Christmas purchase using a U.K. retailer’s click-and-collect service in the eight-week holiday period.

The results were published in a report titled From Click to Collect and showed that 23% of respondents planned to use click and collect for more than half of their Christmas shopping.

Housewares and home goods retailer Argos was the most popular for consumers who bought online and picked up in store, with 69% of respondents saying they used the merchant’s services. Mass merchants Tesco and Marks & Spencer followed, the report said, but did not break out other percentages. Argos is owned by Home Retail Group, No. 6 in Internet Retailer’s 2015 Europe 500; Tesco is No. 3 and Marks & Spencer is No. 14.

Apparel was the most popular category cited for click and collect at 27%, followed by toys and games (24%), and home goods (14%).

Saving on delivery fees was the main reason survey respondents chose that option; it was cited by 42% of respondents, followed by guaranteed product availability at 16%.

IMRG and Capgemini also estimates that e-retail accounted for 27% of all retail sales in all of 2015 and that for the second year running all growth in its index came from mobile devices, with desktop and laptop computers showing declines. Mobile commerce grew by 42% last year, by IMRG Capgemini estimates, with 45% of all online sales made via a mobile device during the third quarter (August to October). Year over year, smartphone-based sales grew by 93% compared with 25% for tablets.




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