Online breaks 20% of retail for first time

The quantity bought in retail sales increased by 0.4% in the three months to November 2018, driven by growths in non-food stores, online retailing and Black Friday promotions.

According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), during the month online sales as a proportion of all retailing exceeded 20% for the first time, with all online retailing accounting for 21.5% of total retailing on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

Additionally, the quantity bought in November when compared with October 2018 increased by 1.4%, with a strong monthly growth of 5.3% in household goods stores.

Mintel has also reported that December’s retail sales will reach £47.7bn, growing 4% when compared with last year when sales hit £45.8bn.

Sales through non-food retailers are expected to reach £23.5bn (including £4bn from online sales generated by physical stores), while food retailers will see sales of £18.6bn (including £1.4bn from online sales generated by physical stores).

The market research firm also estimates that internet pure players (online only retailers), will account for £5.6bn worth of sales. With online sales generated by physical non-food and food stores estimated to hit £5.4bn, combined with the £5.6bn generated by internet pure players, Mintel expects total online sales this December will be worth £11bn.

Richard Perks, director of retail research at Mintel, said: “We think that retailers can look forward to a reasonably good Christmas—not outstanding, but it won’t be bad either. While there are some reasons to be cautious, such as falling consumer confidence, there is no real sign of an underlying slowdown in retail sales growth.

Retail sales have held up well this year and we expect the recent momentum is likely to be maintained, with retail sales growing at about 4% both in the final quarter of 2018 and in December itself.”

He added: “While there’s been much talk of how the High Street is being undermined by online retailing, it still only represents a relatively small part of overall retail sales, with most shopping still taking place in physical stores.”

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