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UK Digital Shoppers Buy Often, but In-Store Still Reigns

High frequency, and not necessarily volume, among UK digital shoppers

The UK market for retail ecommerce is well developed. eMarketer estimates that 93.0% of internet users in the country will be digital shoppers in 2014, while 88.0% will be digital buyers. UK retail ecommerce sales will total £52.22 billion ($81.59 billion) in total retail ecommerce sales this year, and that figure will rise to £76.41 billion ($119.39 billion) by 2018.

Not only are there a lot of digital shoppers and buyers in the UK spending considerable amounts of money, but they’re also likely to be shopping often. A March 2014 study by Redshift Research for marketing firm Sailthru found that 60% of digital shoppers were frequenting their favorite online stores at least weekly—only 10% said they weren’t frequent digital shoppers.

However, there is no suggestion that the death of the high street is anywhere near close. While eMarketer’s retail ecommerce estimates for the UK paint a positive picture of growth, it must be noted that they will still account for only a small proportion of total retail sales—13.0% in 2014, only rising to 17.6% by 2018.

In-store remains a big hitter, not just in terms of sales volumes, but also in terms of consumer sentiment. A November 2013 study conducted by Ipsos MediaCT for the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising asked those 15 and older in Great Britain what they considered their primary shopping channel to be. An overwhelming majority—90%—cited a physical store.

The message is clear: While digital commerce is becoming big business in the UK, it would be folly to ignore the high street.

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