2016’s online sales growth beats expectations

A total of £133 billion was spent online with UK retailers in 2016, up £18 billion (16 per cent) compared with 2015, according to the latest IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index figures.

The results demonstrate a strong performance for online retail in 2016, exceeding IMRG and Capgemini’s original forecast of 11 per cent growth for the year and unexpectedly reversing a trend of declining growth rates over the past few years. For 2017, IMRG and Capgemini predict that e-retail in the UK will grow a further 14 per cent.

The strong performance of online retail in 2016 was fuelled by the continued rise of sales made on smartphones. In December, sales made via smartphones were up 47 per cent year-on-year. In contrast, sales made on tablets were down three per cent. The overall split of sales made on mobile devices last month was 54 per cent on smartphones versus 46 per cent on tablets.

Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini, said: “2016 was a turbulent year with a number of predictions for retail and beyond going against the status quo. Few would have anticipated the decline in sales made on tablets, but with sales made through overall mobile devices generating over 50 per cent of visits, combined with the sweeping growth of both visits and conversions from smartphones, mobile continues to head towards being the number one sales channel.”

The index also revealed that during the 2016 Christmas shopping period – defined as running from 13 November through to 24 December – £25 billion was spent online in the UK. This was up 16 per cent on the amount spent online during the 2015 festive season.

Looking at 2016 as a whole, the accessories and lingerie categories witnessed the biggest increases in online sales, up 38 per cent and 33 per cent respectively. But at the bottom of the table was the health and beauty sector, which saw online sales drop three per cent.

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