UK consumers spent £24bn online over the Christmas period (1 November – 26 December), and £114bn in the whole of 2015, an 11 per cent year-on-year increase on the 2014 figure, according to the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, which tracks online sales from over 100 e-tailers. The forecast for 2016 is £126bn of online sales.
There was a 42 per cent year-on-year increase in mCommerce activity in 2015, with 45 per cent of all online sales made via a mobile device during Q3 (August to October). In fact, all growth in the Index was driven by sales made on smartphones and tablets.
Sales via smartphones continued 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 per cent year-on-year. While tablets continue to account for the largest share of mobile commerce, significantly, during December 40 per cent of mCommerce sales were completed on a smartphone, compared with 28 per cent penetration in December 2014.
John Lewis was just one retailer who witnessed a strong mobile performance. Its director of online trade, Mark Felix, said: “Christmas 2015 had three distinct sales peaks – Black Friday, Christmas and Clearance. As well as strong performances across all our product areas, we also saw customers shopping across a variety of channels and our shops and website worked together effectively. Overall, online accounted for 40 per cent of sales over the Christmas period and mobile continued to be our fastest-growing channel, with sales from smartphones and tablets up over a third."
The Index figures show that the greatest concentration of sales during the Christmas period (17 per cent) 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 per cent on the previous week, with shoppers splashing out an estimated £4.3bn on discounted goods. This represents a significant increase on the 44 per cent growth recorded during the same period in 2014, and 20 per cent in 2013, before Black Friday became a thing in the UK.
“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,” said Alex Smith-Bingham, head of digital at Capgemini. “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.”