Online sales growing at fastest rate in three years as high street suffers

Web sales growth in December accelerated to 19.2%, the fastest rate for more than three years

More Britons than ever did their Christmas shopping online this year with almost one in five non-food purchases made over the internet.

Web sales growth in December accelerated to 19.2%, the fastest rate for more than three years, while overall UK retail sales grew by just 0.4% on a like-for-like basis.

The data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) survey carried out by KPMG showed online trade represented 18.6% of total non-food sales in December, up from 16.5% the year before.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "More of us clicked into Christmas than ever before, with online non-food sales growth putting in its best performance since March 2010 and accounting for nearly 20% of spending.

"The surge in the use of tablets and smartphones last year, together with the ever-faster delivery times achieved by an increasing number of retailers, has provided a new spur of growth to online shopping."

The news follows a string of poor Christmas trading figures from high street stalwarts such as Debenhams, M&S, Tesco and Morrisons.

Across the wider non-food sector, like-for-like sales in the last quarter were up 1.5% while a decline in food revenues accelerated to 0.6% indicating the pressure on beleaguered major supermarkets as squeezed shoppers turned to their discounter rivals.

Ms Dickinson said the retail figures came in the context of a year of "encouraging but fragile recovery", adding: "This is a respectable result overall. While confidence levels were higher than the previous year, this wasn't always matched by more money in pockets."

David McCorquodale, KPMG head of retail, said: "Whilst store sales continue to flatline, online sales remain the main driver of growth for the sector, contributing nearly three quarters of the uptick in non-food sales in the last quarter of 2013.

"The winners this Christmas were those retailers with slick multichannel operations, who could offer consumers the flexibility to shop how, and when, they wanted to."

In clothing, online sales represented 21.2% of sales in December, up from 18% in 2012, while furniture and flooring products bought on the internet represented nearly a third of all sales, at 32.4% - though this was down a little on 32.6% last year.

The figure for electrical goods and toys was 14.4%, up from last year's 11.9% but a fall on the 15.5% who shopped online for these goods in November.

This was attributed to consumers searching early on the web for in-demand Christmas products such as video game consoles to try to get hold of them before they went out of stock.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat