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UK online retail sales hit £133bn in 2016

RBR Staff Writer Published 19 January 2017

New data has revealed that UK online sales exceeded £130bn in 2016, fuelled by sales growth on smartphones.

The IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index has revealed that compared to 2015, online sales revenue grew by £18bn.

In the lead up to Christmas, in the November 13 – December 24 range, £25bn was spent online, as revealed by the measurement.

The results showcased exceptional performance for online retail in the region last year as per the UK's online retail association and Capgemini whose growth forecast of 11% for 2016 was exceeded to reverse the declining trend of sales over the recent few years.

Detailing on the role played by smartphones in the online sales boost, IMRG stated that sales made through the devices shot up by 47% year-on-year (YoY). However, sales made via tablets went down by 3% YoY.

Capgemini Retail Customer Engagement Design principal consultant Bhavesh Unadkat said: “2016 was a turbulent year with a number of predictions for retail and beyond going against the status quo.  Regardless, it was still a record breaking year for online sales - up 16% on 2015. 

“Few would have anticipated the decline in sales made on tablets, but with sales made through overall mobile devices generating over 50% of visits, combined with the sweeping growth of both visits and conversions from smartphones, mobile continues to head towards being the number one sales channel.”

In Christmas month, smartphones constituted 54% of sales through mobile devices while tablets made up for the other 46%. This was in contrast to the figures recorded in December 2015 where smartphones made up for 39% of sales via mobile devices.

The sales index reported that accessories and lingerie had the biggest spike in online sales, growing by 38% and 33% respectively. Gifts followed them, up by 26% while footwear saw 21% growth.

For this year, IMRG and Capgemini have forecast a growth rate of 14% for the UK e-retail segment.

Image: Smartphones helped UK online sales grow by 16% in 2016 as per IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index. Photo: courtesy of IMRG.