Online sales are booming. So much so that Black Friday has shifted from a high-street event to an online one, in the space of just two years, as retailers extended discounting over a week-long period rather than a single day.
In 2015 e-commerce sales were up 11% year-on-year, equating to an approximate £114bn expenditure, the latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index show.
The Christmas shopping period as a whole, defined as the eight weeks between 1st November and 26th December, saw £24.4bn spent online; a 12% annual increase, and a record for the Index.
The greatest concentration of sales during the Christmas period (17%) took place during Black Friday week, commencing 22nd November. During what has become the biggest event in the retail calendar, online sales increased 62% on the previous week, with shoppers splashing out an estimated £4.3bn on discounted goods. This represents a significant increase on the 44% growth recorded during the same period in 2014, and 20% in 2013, before Black Friday existed in the UK.
“2015 has been another massive year in terms of consumer spending, but what the Index reveals is just how dominant the online channels have become,” comments Alex Smith-Bingham, Head of Digital at Capgemini.
“We also saw mobile confirm its role as a primary shopping channel, providing consumers with an unprecedented level of convenience. In 2016 I’m confident we’ll see this influence increase even further with mobile representing over half of all sales made online.”
In terms of shopping sectors, the Index revealed that what consumers are purchasing online has shifted during 2015. The more discretionary items – those sectors traditionally associated as treats - have grown, whilst those that have historically driven the Index have fluctuated throughout the year. 2015 saw the sales of gifts, health & beauty, and travel increase 18%, 22% and 16% between 2014 and 2015. This contrasts with electricals and clothing which recorded a comparatively low 3% and 11% on the previous year, while home & garden sales were down 2% year-on-year.
m-retail in 2015 reported a 42% growth on the previous year, with 45% of all online sales made via a mobile device during the third quarter (August to October). Such is the ballooning influence of mobile technology, for the second year in succession, all growth in the Index has been driven by sales made on a mobile.
This year, IMRG predicts further 11% growth, with total e-retail sales estimated to be worth £126bn by year end.