Online sales last year hit £50bn mark

Kasmira Jefford
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ONLINE retail sales in the UK surged by 14 per cent last year to more than £50bn, as consumer appetite for shopping online continues impact the high street, new research shows.

The report, commissioned by price comparison site Kelkoo, reveals that online shoppers spent an average of just under £1,500 each on 39 items last year with internet retail trade accounting for 12 per cent of total spending, the highest in Europe.

Over the last ten years growth in internet sales has outstripped retail sales on the high street, with sales in the UK growing by 48 per cent on average from 2008 to 2011 alone.

While retailers have struggled at Christmas as rising prices, muted wages growth and government austerity measures forced shoppers to rein in spending, those with strong internet businesses, with its convenience and transparency, have fared better.

“Inevitably, this will have an ongoing negative impact on the high street, an issue which is forcing retailers to bring the two channels much closer together,” Chris Simpson, chief management officer at Kelkoo said.

“It is widely acknowledged that the recession has boosted the appeal of online retailing and UK consumers are more determined than ever to make every penny count.”

Kelkoo predicts 14 per cent growth this year again, while total retail sales in the UK are expected to grow by just 3.6 per cent in comparison.

Together, UK, German and France accounted for 71 per cent of total online European sales last year.