The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed that online retail sales recorded a solid 11% Year-on-Year increase in 2015, equating to approximately £114bn spent online. The annual performance is slightly under IMRG and Capgemini’s 2015 forecast of 12% growth. For 2016, their respective prediction is the Index will record a further 11% growth, with total e-retail sales estimated to be worth £126bn by year end.
The Christmas shopping period as a whole, defined as the eight weeks between 1 November and 26 December, saw £24.4bn spent online; a 12% annual increase, and a record for the Index.
The Index figures show that the greatest concentration of sales during the Christmas period (17%) took place during the week of Black Friday, commencing 22 November. During what has become the biggest event in the retail calendar, online sales increased 62% on the previous week, with shoppers splashing out an estimated £4.3bn on discounted goods. This represents a significant increase on the 44% growth recorded during the same period in 2014, and 20% in 2013, before BlackFriday existed in the UK.
Alex Smith-Bingham, head of digital, Capgemini, said: “2015 has been another massive year in terms of consumer spending, but what the Index reveals is just how dominant the online channels have become. In just two years Black Friday has shifted from a high-street event to an online one, with retailers extending their discounting over a week, rather than a single day. We also saw mobile confirm its role as a primary shopping channel, providing consumers with an unprecedented level of convenience. In 2016 I’m confident we’ll see this influence increase even further with mobile representing over half of all sales made online.”
Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: “Rounding off a mixed year for e-retail, where we saw single-digit growth in several months, the UK online retail industry recorded a solid performance in December, with sales growth significantly higher than the same month in 2014. 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. 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.
“Sales via smartphones continue to grow at a significantly higher rate than those via tablets, with sales growth during December reaching the highest recorded during 2015 at 117.5% year-on-year. 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.”
In terms of shopping sectors, the Index revealed that what consumers are purchasing online has shifted during 2015. The more discretionary items – those sectors traditionally associated as treats – have grown, whilst those that have historically driven the Index have fluctuated throughout the year. 2015 saw the sales of gifts, health & beauty, and travel increase 18%, 22% and 16% between 2014 and 2015. This contrasts with electricals and clothing which recorded a comparatively low 3% and 11% on the previous year, while home & garden sales were down 2% year-on-year.
M-retail in 2015 reported a 42% growth on the previous year, with 45% of all online sales made via a mobile device during the third quarter (August to October). Such is the ballooning influence of mobile technology, for the second year in succession, all growth in the Index has been driven by sales made on a mobile.