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Mobile Shopping Drives UK Retail Ecommerce Sales

Tablets will account for nearly two-thirds of mcommerce sales in the UK this year

Shopping on mobile devices will account for a rapidly growing share of UK retail ecommerce sales and is expected to contribute to strong ecommerce sales growth this year, according to new figures from eMarketer. Already, over one-quarter of all online sales in the UK take place via smartphones and tablets; by 2018, that figure will near two in five.

eMarketer estimates that UK retail ecommerce sales will rise 16.0% this year, helped by an improving economy, shoppers’ increasing use of mobile devices for making purchases, and expanded options for purchase delivery. Total retail sales in the UK, by contrast, will grow by just 3.6% in 2014, and movement will slow after that. Meanwhile, the growth trajectory for mcommerce sales is even steeper, with a predicted 64.8% rise this year.

“Mcommerce is seeing such good growth for a couple of reasons: Mobile device ownership is rising rapidly, and consumers are becoming more comfortable making purchases on these devices. Tablets, in particular, offer a larger and more tactile interface for online shopping, which is why we’re seeing particularly fast growth in tablet commerce,” explained Bill Fisher, UK analyst at eMarketer.

Retail sales on tablets are growing considerably faster than those on smartphones in the UK, even though smartphone usage is far more common than tablet usage. Tablets—with their larger, more inviting screens and their general use at home in the evenings, typically via broadband connection—will contribute roughly double the level of sales than smartphones will this year, accounting for nearly two-thirds of total UK mcommerce sales.

Most nontablet-based mcommerce sales in the UK occur on smartphones. eMarketer expects tablet-based retail mcommerce sales to more than double from £9.28 billion ($14.50 billion) this year to £20.96 billion ($32.75 billion) by 2018.

And, for the first time this year, more individuals in the UK will make purchases via tablets than via smartphones, at a projected 16.4 million vs. 15.4 million.

eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all of its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

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