Feeds

UK e-spend on the up-and-up

Record online sales during 2004

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The next step in data security

A record number of Brits last year eschewed the pre-Xmas high street shopping stampede in favour of online shopping, and the trend is set continue during the traditional January sales.

An estimated 12m Britons shopped online during 2004, and their Yule spend alone - during the last three months of the year - contributed £2.6bn to the UK's £245bn total annual retail sales. This figure represents a 44.5 per cent increase on the same period in 2003, according to the Times.

This trend towards virtual purchases has hit high street retailers. Woolworths admitted in a Herald report that its "plan to prepare stores for Christmas three weeks earlier than usual had backfired" and that Xmas revenues had been "disappointing".

The chain blames a combination of factors - including DVD piracy and a "general malaise" across the toy industry, but online bargains and discounts have greatly contributed to the appeal of e-shopping at the expense of the traditional store.

As the Herald notes, Dixons, Currys and PC World all offer tempting savings for e-shoppers. For example, Dixons is knocking out a Fuji 605 digital camera for £84.90 online while the in-store price is £169.89.

Accordingly, pundits predict that consumers will continue to favour the web for their January bargains. The head of projects and marketing at IMRG, Andrew McClelland, said: "My gut feeling is that internet January sales shopping will have risen again this year.

"We saw it in the run-up to Christmas and I think we will see it again. At the moment, it is looking a little tight – high street versus the web – but what we are hearing is that electrical products are proving particularly popular with e-shoppers."

However, although UK online sales are on the up-and-up, some analysts warn that the total spend must be put in perspective. Rhys Williams of Seymour Pierce told the Times: "Online retailers are showing significant growth, but it is important to recognise that they are working from a very low base. Four years ago, online consumers accounted for less than 1 per cent of total sales. That figure has now increased to 2.4 per cent.

"On that basis, I would hesitate to argue that online retailers are taking market share from conventional retailers. Also, remember that most of the companies that people are buying from online also have their own stores on the high street. There are very few pure e-tailers out there."

Indeed, UK supermarket chain Tesco - which has its own successful online presence - argues that people are simply chosing to spend their cash in alternative ways, rather than at different retailers: "It is a case of different customers wanting to shop in different ways. Some choose to buy bulky items online while preferring to select fresh produce themselves from their local store. Other customers shop entirely online because it suits their lifestyle."

So, despite the burgeoning online market, virtual shoppers are still some way from sounding the death knell for the high street store. ®

Related stories

US goes on Xmas e-spending orgy
Ecommerce to rocket in 2005
Ecommerce getting cheaper and easier

Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.