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Web Gains Traction in Pre-Christmas Shopping Race

22 January 2019 - 08:54 by Graham Miller

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The Office for National Statistics has released its own figures covering the performance of the UK’s retail sector last month, with analysts concluding that people splashed out a whopping £1.9 billion via online shopping.

The year-on-year increase of 13.9 per cent enjoyed by the e-commerce market meant that it accounted for a greater proportion of sales than ever before, with the ONS pinpointing its share at 20 per cent.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was actually a slight drop in the amount spent in December compared with November, since the popularity of the Black Friday weekend acts to concentrate a lot of sales just prior to the festive month itself.

ONS statistics also suggest that there was a 3.1 per cent rise in retail activity overall last month, in spite of less positive results suggested in other studies.

The most popular product categories over the course of the month proved to be clothing, household goods and food. Interestingly enough, it was also discovered that e-commerce sites that do not have high street stores were able to enjoy greater average growth of 19.1 per cent, suggesting that the freedom afforded by not being reliant on bricks-and-mortar outlets was conducive to improved sales.

There is still a lot of caution amongst consumers when it comes to spending, with the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s political and economic future acting to reduce the enthusiasm for splashing out. However, the fact that December saw strong online sales increases is a good sign in its own right and one which may reduce a little of the doom and gloom surrounding the retail sector at the moment.

Sales could further be impacted this year if the value of the pound continues to fluctuate and issues with importing goods after Brexit arise.