UK ecommerce figures soar

Posted Sep 3, 2014 by Drew Hendricks
From supermarkets and department stores, to small marketplaces and gardening centres, over the past five years, the entire online retail sector has seen significant growth, and has doubled its share of the retail market.
Depicting the idea of online shopping
Depicting the idea of online shopping
Via Flickr user Noel Worli
According to a study by IMRG, online retail sales grew by 16 percent in 2013, meaning that figures for the year hit £91bn. 2013 therefore stood as a record breaking year, and these sales accounted for 21 percent of the total retail market. As for 2014, it has been predicted that despite the previous year’s record status, sales will continue to rise to £107bn per year, growing by another 17 percent. All the while, high street retail will trail behind, as claimed by, growing by only 2.4 percent — meaning that online retailers are expanding nearly six times faster than these high street stores.
According to Q1 figures from, 2014 hasn’t disappointed so far, as an estimated £23.1 billion was spent online in the first three months, and it is predicted that the average shopper will spend more than £1000 online for the first time this year.
But what is causing this consistent growth of online shopping?
Technology is improving
The number and quality of portable devices today appear to be a major factor in the growth of online sales. Gone are the days where a mobile phone was used solely for keeping in touch. We are now using our ever-evolving mobile devices including tablets and the iPad to surf the web, wherever and whenever we choose — taking multi-tasking to the next level as we watch TV whilst flicking through Twitter, browsing the ASOS sale and watching hilarious videos of cats. According to an article by the Telegraph, mobile and tablet devices now account for around four in 10 visits to e-retail sites, and mobile retail sales increased by 138 percent in 2013. It therefore appears as though the more portable the technology, the more we will use it — even if it is simultaneous to other things.
Items that can be purchased
What started as a very basic array of items that could be purchased has increased — from books and food from supermarkets, to clothes, alcohol and everything in between on auction sites such as eBay. An incredible range of items can now be bought online, immediately providing the high street with competition. When certain businesses began offering mobile payment services, buying and selling online became a lot simpler, comforting one of the major worries that the public had about online shopping: safety.
We are now devoted to online shopping
A study by found that consumers have adapted their spending habits. Online retail sales are being driven by an increase in the frequency of consumers shopping online, therefore spending more money — whereas it was once purely driven by an increasing number of first-time online shoppers. 67 percent of British consumers now regularly shop online.
Click and Collect
Recognising new spending pattern trends, retailers are striving to diversify their delivery service for a generation of busy consumers. Click and collect has revolutionised online shopping; the customer buys something online, and instead of waiting at home for the package, they pop to the high street store and collect it themselves. Their parcel is there waiting for them, rather than vice versa. Last Christmas saw innovative retailers using click and collect to great effect — making use of both their website and physical shops, whilst other stores such as Morrisons were left with a decrease in sales. According to an article by the Telegraph, 25 percent of online orders from a high street brand are now collected in store.
But the internet should not be seen as competition for the high street
A study by the Guardian found that following the rise of online retail in recent years, more than half of shoppers do still desire a high street presence as well as online. They still want to touch and gauge the quality of what they are buying, which indicates that online stores won’t put the high street out of business any time soon. Instead, the article claimed that with finance companies helping even the smallest SMEs with their online retail presence by providing ecommerce solutions, high street stores should not see online retail as a threat, but as an advantage. The rapid growth of online shopping should incentivise retailers to branch out and complement their store with a multimedia presence, as many others have done so far.