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December sees single digit growth in online shopping

12 January 2017 - 09:24 by Graham Miller

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The latest figures from the British Retail Consortium show that sales made online were up by 7.2 per cent last month, meaning that e-commerce accounted for 24.3 per cent of the UK’s entire retail market in December, when food is not factored into the equation.

BRC spokesperson, Helen Dickinson, pointed out that while web sales had enjoyed double digit growth in the months leading up to the festive shopping period, the reality was that November had absorbed a lot of the Christmas sales activity, resulting in the apparent modest performance in December.

Overall, December was 2016’s second biggest month for shopping online, meaning that even with single digit sales growth it was still a tangible success for retailers and a sign that e-commerce was growing even as the high street faces further woes.

The popularity of buying online during the Christmas break was typified by the fact that spending was weighted towards the final days of December, with sales between the 25th and 31st showing signs of an emerging trend.

In 2016 as a whole, retail sales were up by 1.7 per cent with people shifting to the web in greater numbers than ever as bricks and mortar outlets continued to struggle.

Categories including toys, fashion, health and beauty saw surges in sales at the end of the year, while there were fewer people looking to invest in higher priced items, such as pieces of furniture, than in past years.

Analysts argue that the growth of internet shopping poses a number of new problems for retailers looking to capitalise on its popularity, including the fact that being able to meet the levels of demand for home delivery is taxing during the busiest periods of the year, even for the biggest companies.