UK shoppers are set to spend a record £74.3bn in the run-up to Christmas, with almost one in four pounds expected to be spent online, according to research commissioned by RetailMeNot, the digital offer marketplace and operator of VoucherCodes.co.uk. The study, conducted by the Centre for Retail Research, forecasts that online sales at Christmas will grow by 19.5% to £17.4bn this year, compared to £14.5bn in 2013.
On the high street, shoppers are expected to spend £56.9 billion this year, but as Christmas Day draws closer, the proportion of online retail sales is likely to increase as consumers turn to the web to escape the crowds. As such, e-commerce is predicted to account for 23.4% of Christmas sales this year, up from 20% in 2013, while brick and mortar sales are expected to decline by 2.1%.
Mobile shoppers to drive increase in Christmas spend
With Brits increasingly using tablets and smartphones to shop, mobile purchases are expected to account for over a quarter (29.8%) of all online Christmas sales, up 301% compared to last year, and representing a total of £5.2 bn, almost twice as much as the Germans (£2.9bn) and nearly three times higher than in France (£1.8 bn)
Although the PC is still the killer outbound channel for Christmas shopping, with a predicted £12.2bn to be spent by Brits, tablets and smartphones are increasingly important. This year, tablets are expected to account for £2.1bn of all Christmas sales, while smartphones are expected to account for £3bn, representing 18% of all online sales. Brits are set to have the highest share of online and mobile shopping in Europe this Christmas (23.4% and 29.8% respectively) and are even ahead of the U.S, where 18.7% of the Christmas shopping will be done online, of which 28.4% is projected to be mobile.
“Retail spending in the weeks before Christmas is the most important period of trading for retailers both online and offline. Retailers, particularly of specialist merchandise, will often take 20% or more of their sales in this period,” said Giulio Montemagno, senior vice president of International at RetailMeNot.
“This Christmas looks set to be a bumper year for online retailers as a record number of consumers will be turning to the web to order gifts. With shoppers spending 23 pennies out of every pound online, retailers must ensure that they are appealing to consumers through mobile and tablet devices. The study reveals that almost 30% of all online Christmas sales will occur on mobile this year and in such a competitive retail environment it’s more important than ever that retailers have a solid mobile strategy in place to target shoppers as they shop online or in-store.”
Brits set to be biggest Christmas spenders in Europe
The international study also found that British shoppers are likely to be the highest spenders during the Christmas season in Europe, with a total projected spend of £74.3bn, followed by the Germans (£61.2bn) and the French (£54.9bn). UK Households are expected to spend on average £459 on gifts, £172 above the European average and £22 ahead of the US.