Merry Mobile and Multichannel Christmas for UK retailers

November 7, 2013
  • Mintel expects retail sales growth of 4% in December, taking total retail sales to £40.6 billion (all figures incl VAT).
  • In the final quarter, shoppers will spend a total of £91 billion in stores and online (£88.1 billion in 2012).
  • Online sales are expected to be up 16% year-on-year, meaning online’s share of all retail sales will be a little over 12% or almost £5bn (including VAT) in December.
  • 34% of shoppers told us they will buy most of their presents online this Christmas.
  • 17% of consumers told Mintel they will be using click-and-collect for present-buying this Christmas.
  • 8% of shoppers say they’ll be buying gifts using their smartphone or tablet – but 10% will be using it to check information as part of a multichannel shopping journey.
  • With consumer confidence on the up, the economy recovering and unemployment falling, we expect the strong retail trend to continue into 2014.
  • Looking ahead to UK retail performance over the Christmas 2013 period, Mintel’s Director of Retail Richard Perks gives his analysis on the prospects for retailers both on and offline.

“Everything seems to be coming together at the right time for retailers this year and we expect to see a strong Christmas with year-on-year retail sales growth of 4% in December. We expect shoppers will spend £40.6 billion in total in December 2013.”

“Online-only retailers, notably Amazon, will benefit from a forecast 16% uplift in online retail sales, while the major department stores, who are registering soaring internet sales, are also expected to be among the winners this Christmas.”

“Retail sales have been strong through 2013 and the trend in growth has been upwards, especially over the summer. That increased growth continued, with September seeing good figures in spite of warmer weather which one might have expected to be bad news, especially for clothing sales.

“Most of this spending could be considered routine. But one way to estimate the Christmas effect is to make the assumption that the average for the earlier part of the year is the norm and that anything above that in the final quarter is the Christmas effect. On that basis we expect shoppers’ ‘Christmas spending’ will be around £14.5 billion this year, of which two thirds will be spent in December.”

Consumers putting multichannel shopping front and centre

“Mintel’s research confirms multichannel shopping will be at the heart of consumers’ plans for this Christmas. Consumers tend to shop online more when they are doing ‘shopping-list shopping’ such as buying gifts for other people – browsing in-store is more of a pleasure when you are buying for yourself.”

“More than one-third (34%) of UK consumers told us they will buy all their presents online this year. This will boost the performance of online-only retailers such as Amazon, who tend to outperform at Christmas.

“Yet, with 17% of consumers telling us they will use click-and-collect services this Christmas, store-based retailers have a major advantage over pureplays. And one-quarter of shoppers told Mintel they prefer to visit stores rather than buy online at Christmas.”

“And it will be one of the first major mobile Christmases – but mobiles will be just one element of multichannel shopping. 8% of all shoppers say they are intending to use their smartphone or tablet to buy gifts – although a greater number of time-pressed shoppers may eventually find themselves turning to mobile shopping even if they do not yet intend to do so.”

“A greater number (10% of all shoppers) plan to use their smartphone/tablet to check retailers’ products or prices or read reviews, while they are already shopping. So mobile is likely to be more popular as one element of a multichannel shopping process than as a channel in its own right.”

“11% of shoppers are planning to leave their Christmas shopping until the last week – and last-minute shopping is likely to be easier than ever. Later cut-off period for Christmas delivery together with click-and-collect options mean it’s easier for these last-minute shoppers to buy their presents online. Meantime, mobile-enabled consumers can compare prices, find nearby stores and, with some retailers, reserve stock while they are already shopping.”

“Looking further ahead, we think retailers need to cater to these mobile-enabled shoppers by rolling out options to check stock availability and reserve products in nearby stores.”

Mintel News

For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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