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UK Online Sales Hit £133bn in 2016 - Driven by Smartphone Growth

Tyrone Stewart

Woman on smartphoneSales made via smartphones grew 47 per cent year-on-year (YoY), in December 2016 – as £133bn was spent online with UK retailers across the year.

According to the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index, sales made on tablets, by contrast, were down 3 per cent in the same month. Mobile sales accounted for 54 per cent of mobile device sales, with tablets accounting for the other 46 per cent, in December. In December 2015, smartphones only accounted for 39 per cent of mobile device sales.

“2016 was a turbulent year with a number of predictions for retail and beyond going against the status quo.  Regardless, it was still a record breaking year for online sales - up 16% on 2015,” said Bhavesh Unadkat, principal consultant in retail customer engagement design at Capgemini.

“Few would have anticipated the decline in sales made on tablets, but with sales made through overall mobile devices generating over 50% 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.”

Looking specifically at the Christmas period, which is defined as running from 13 November to 24 December, IMRG and Capgemini say that £25bn was spent online in 2016. This represents a 16 per cent increase on the period in 2015 – which ran from 15 November to 26 December.

Despite this, Salmon has reported that the Black Friday period was significantly busier than peak trading at Christmas online, with 28 per cent more orders taken than during the festive period in the UK. 51 per cent of these Black Friday orders were made on mobile devices versus 60 per cent during the Christmas period.

Patrick Munden, head of retail and marketing at Salmon, said: “With the majority of orders in the two biggest sales periods being placed on mobile, this mirrors the increasing trend we’re seeing of digital – particularly mobile – shopping done at a time and a place when it suits the consumer most. Retailers need to pay attention to this to ensure they are offering a concrete and efficient digital offering.”

Black Friday also saw UK retailers have 27 per cent more traffic, while the conversion rate was 35 per cent higher than Christmas. In addition, people were browsing 46 per cent longer and spending, on average, nine per cent more per order.

“While it would be premature to call 2016 the end of Christmas sales, what’s clear is that peak trading has shifted dramatically towards the Black Friday period,” Munden added. “With more traffic, more orders and more conversion occurring over Black Friday week, consumers are embracing the smorgasbord of deals that November offers, leaving Christmas deals trailing in its wake.”

Want to learn more about the power of mobile retail? Book a place at our Mobile Marketing Retail Summit, taking place this January, for a chance to discuss with experts how you can keep ahead of the curve. Click here for more details.