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E-Commerce Sites Buck Downward Trend as Retail Market Shrinks in 2019

09 January 2020 - 14:57 by Graham Miller

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The British Retail Consortium has published its year-end report, confirming that total sales slipped by 0.1 per cent last year following a period of modest growth.

Study spokesperson Helen Dickinson confirmed that 2019 saw the least impressive performance since the BRC began keeping records of retail sales, also noting that more bricks and mortar stores were closed and more jobs lost in the industry than ever before.

December did at least manage to bring some joy, with a 1.7 year-on-year increase in activity both on the high street and via safe shopping online. However, when Black Friday is factored into the equation because of the point at which it falls, the cumulative sales between November and December of 2019 were actually down by 1.2 per cent, according to Internet Retailing.

In terms of the growth of e-commerce, there were positive signs revealed in the report, with 34.5 per cent of all non-food retail sales attributed to the web in this particular study. This means that now more than a third of purchases made in the UK are channelled via a shopping site, whether they are then subsequently delivered direct to the customer’s door or picked up via click and collect.

Overall, online spending was up by 12.8 per cent last month, which is impressive given that back in December of 2018 the growth level was only at 5.8 per cent. This shows that there is still some seasonally induced momentum that can be gathered by the e-commerce market, regardless of the muted performance seen on the high street.

Indeed, it seems that the only reason that retail sales as a whole only shrank by a fraction of a percentage point was down to online growth making up for falling interest in bricks and mortar shopping.