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E-commerce sales will outpace high street by 2021

29 January 2016 - 10:45 by Graham Miller

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More people in the UK will spend cash shopping online than in high street stores by 2021, according to figures from IMRG.

Yearly growth in e-commerce sales of 11 per cent will help online retailers to overtake their bricks and mortar equivalents during the course of the coming half-decade, with up to 50,000 job losses likely as this trend intensifies, according to the Sun.

Some retailers are expecting to see this change in the balance of power occur even sooner, with John Lewis anticipating that more customers could be making purchase from its website than from within its real world outlets by 2019.

Interestingly, this IMRG report conflicts with the findings of a recent study from the Centre of Retail Research, which indicates that e-commerce will be less dominant by 2021, accounting for 40 per cent of sales.

CRR spokesperson, Professor Joshua Bamfield, admitted that the significant changes that the UK’s retail sector is undergoing at the moment will invariably lead to some retailers being forced to close their doors for good, while others will have to merge with rivals in order to survive.

The high street suffered from a slight decline in sales in the run-up to Christmas last year, with 12.7 per cent of high street stores now lying unoccupied. Eateries and coffee outlets are coming in to plug the gaps in many instances, but this is causing the shape of the high street to shift away from its traditional roots.

If 2021 is indeed the year in which shopping online overtakes high street spending, then it will have taken e-commerce less than three decades to end the UK’s love affair with bricks and mortar stores. And with mobile driving the majority of online purchases, even the e-commerce market itself is in a volatile state at the moment.