With Christmas Day only a few weeks away, it’s hardly surprising that UK consumers have begun buying gifts to put underneath the Christmas tree. And it seems they’re paying for an increasing number of those presents online, according to new research from the British Retail Consortium, the trade association, and KPMG, the accountancy firm.
Thanks to a massive boost in online shopping over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period, there was a 10.9% increase in online sales of non-food products in November compared to the same month last year. This is the third consecutive year that there’s been a year-on-year growth in online sales. In November 2015, for instance, online sales were 11.8% than the same month in 2014.
The research also unveiled that online sales accounted for 27.6% of non-food sales, up from 25.3% in 2015. This was the highest share that online sales has taken to date and the 11th consecutive month that it’s remained above 20%. Meanwhile, more people are staying away from the high street, perhaps put off by apocalyptic-looking scenes depicted in the media each year. The report also showed that in-store sales fell by 0.8% in the three months leading up to November.
Commenting on the research, Helen Dickinson OBE, chief executive at British Retail Consortium, said: “With more than one in four pounds spent online, this was a record high for online non-food sales. Facilitated by the convenience of buying online, heavy sales periods, such as November, encourage an increasingly value- driven customer to shop around for price comparisons to fulfil their Christmas shopping list.”
So what are people buying? It seems Brits have been displaying their love for a good gadget as well as a desire to look their best for all those Christmas parties in December. “It was the beauty and toy categories which topped the growth rankings, as customers took advantage of the pre-Christmas discounts for gift purchases,” said Dickinson. “With discounts on electricals being the key feature of Black Friday sales, it is unsurprising that the other non- food category – in which consumer electronics sit – contributed the most to growth in November.”
Yet, Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, warned that retailers may find it easier said than done to get the gifts down the chimney. “Retailers now face the challenge of processing the inevitable returns following the surge in sales, all too easily overlooked amidst the excitement of Black Friday,” he said. “The pressure then turns to ensuring deliveries will make it under the Christmas tree in time.”
Considering that this is the season to be jolly, the elves in charge of logistics better sort this out in time for the 25th.