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UK online retail sales maintain strong growth

The British obsession with online shopping continued to grow in December despite economic uncertainty, a new report showed today.

Sales over the Internet during the final month of 2012 increased by 17.5% year-on-year, above expectations, and for the whole of the year online sales were up 14% compared with 2011, the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index showed.

In particular, consumers are increasingly using their smartphones and tablets for shopping. Total sales through mobile devices in 2012 were up 304% on 2011.

The report’s authors – e-retail industry association IMRG and analyst Capgemini – pointed out that mobile devices were very popular as gift choices this Christmas, so it seems likely that this strong growth will continue throughout 2013.

Chris Webster, head of retail and technology at Capgemini, highlighted the fact that visits and sales via smartphones and tablets are nearly four times higher than a year ago and said we are now reaching a point where consumers are spending more time shopping on their phones than making calls.

This year retailers will use mobile devices as the “default channel” to reach consumers, he predicted.

As well as completing transactions via mobile, consumers are also using their mobile devices for research prior to making a purchase. A slight drop in the conversion rate between November and December suggests that consumers are increasing their use of the Internet to research decisions on purchases which they make later, either online or in store.

Overall, IMRG and Capgemini have forecast that the online retail market will grow by 12% in 2013, with consumers spending GBP87bn online.


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