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Christmas 2016: a story of online sales

Christmas 2016: a story of online sales, smartphones and the importance of omnichannel for Retailers

Monday, 16 January 2017

The figures are now becoming available for the payment volumes and trends over the festive period. During the six weeks before Christmas, £25 billion was spent online, up a significant 16% on the amount spent in 2015, according to figures from the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index. One of the key drivers for this growth was sales made using smartphones; in December, sales made via smartphones were up 47% compared to the same period last year. Smartphones accounted for 54% of mobile device sales, with tablets accounting for the other 46%. This is a large increase compared to December 2015, when smartphones accounted for 39% of mobile device sales. Conversely, sales made using tablets showed a decrease of 3% compared to last year.

Whilst online-only Retailers such as Amazon and Asos achieved a significant growth in their sales, and the footfall for bricks and mortar retailers was disappointing over the festive period, those retailers who offer multiple sales channels achieved strong trading figures. Over the six weeks to 31 December, online accounted for 40% of total sales at John Lewis, while sales from mobile devices were up 80% and accounted for 37% of all traffic to the John Lewis website. However, shop sales at John Lewis were up just 0.8%, with the vast majority of consumers opting for the convenience of online or click-and-collect.

Similarly at Marks & Spencer, more than 30% of the retailer’s website traffic now comes from its mobile phone app, while 62% of its online sales are collected from stores.

Previous trend predictions were that online was sounding the death knell for the high street and would turn many retail brands into digital-only businesses. The reality however is that online compared to customer-present sales is not a simple binary choice and that those retailers who offer the widest combination of sales channels, combining both physical shop presence and strong online options, are likely to prove the most successful.

Unsurprisingly, the use of online as a sales channel is predicted to increase during 2017, as is the increased use of smartphones as the device of choice for such sales.

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