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Online Shopping Extends Retail Reach

04 December 2019 - 15:55 by Simon Crisp

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An impressive 33.8 per cent of all sales made across the UK retail sector during November originated via safe shopping online, according to a report from BRC.

This is a significant step forwards for the e-commerce sector, which has previously accounted for less than a third of overall sales. Furthermore, the report’s authors admit that once the full scope of Black Friday has been factored in, the true figure may be even greater.

The potency of the Black Friday weekend is such that if it is not taken into account, the UK’s retail market actually shrunk by 4.4 per cent last month, whereas growth of 0.9 per cent was achieved when the sales from this event are included.

Experts still warn that the Christmas shopping season this year is expected to be less buoyant than in the past, with consumers choosing to hold on to their cash and seek the best bargains rather than splashing out unnecessarily.

The fact that e-commerce is creeping ever closer to securing a majority stake in retail sales is impressive, and it seems that online stores could be capitalising on the overall weakness of the market at the moment. It may still be some time until bricks and mortar sales are completely eclipsed by the web, but at this point it does seem inevitable that this will occur at some point.

Another aspect revealed in the BRC’s report is that online sales actually dropped by a tenth in November if you exclude Black Friday activity. This confirms that the sales event focuses spending over a very small period, creating tougher trading conditions for retailers in the weeks leading up to it.

The postponing of Brexit to 2020 has also helped lubricate consumer spending to a degree, although uncertainty still hangs heavy.