Pandemic has turbo-charged digital transformation, report finds

Experian said online retail sales saw four years’ worth of growth in just 12 months.

Person using laptop
Person using laptop

The Covid-19 pandemic has turbo-charged the UK’s digital transformation, according to new data.

Credit agency Experian found online retail sales saw four years’ worth of growth in just 12 months, helping the logistics and transportation sector grow accordingly.

According to Experian Economics, online retail sales rose from 12% to 34% of total retail spend in the past year – hitting levels not predicted until 2025.

The transportation, wholesale and logistics sector which help support online delivery services grew by 8.7% and now makes up 16.2% of the economy, it found.

Logistics firms have enjoyed huge boosts in sales, although an HGV driver shortage has led to some facing delays and disruption in recent months.

The number of registered digital and traditional retail businesses grew by 8% over the last five years, of which 7% occurred in the last year alone, driven by the online sales boom.

But the fastest-growing sector in the past year was the property industry, with estate agents seeing a surge in business as homeowners benefitted from a stamp duty holiday introduced by the Government.

What’s clear is that there is an enormous opportunity to capitalise on changing consumer behaviours and accelerated digitisation to supercharge economic recovery

Mohammed Chaudhri, Experian

The sector grew 33% – with the West and East Midlands both outperforming London in terms of growth, up 41% and 40% respectively. The capital saw the property sector grow 28%.

Government ministers have been pushing the UK to take on the mantle of Silicon Valley for Europe.

And it seems companies are taking on the challenger, with the financial services sector up 11.5%, primarily through new fintech firms.

The UK remains a services-led economy, with 31% of British businesses in the sector, followed by transportation and selling of goods at 16% and leisure making up 11%.

Agriculture forestry, fishing and mining are the smallest sectors, accounting for just 1.7% of the total economy, Experian added.

Mohammed Chaudhri, chief economist at Experian in the UK and Ireland said: “The last 12 months have had a profound effect on all types of businesses and sectors.

“What’s clear is that there is an enormous opportunity to capitalise on changing consumer behaviours and accelerated digitisation to supercharge economic recovery.

“The pandemic forced an unprecedented pace of change which has opened up new opportunities not only for companies with established digital presences such as fintechs and retailers, but for sectors like delivery and logistics who will see the benefits as these new trends become established behaviours.”

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