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UK Ecommerce Springs into 2014

Online retail sales up 18% year over year

A surge in UK business-to-consumer (B2C) ecommerce sales in January 2014 reflected growing consumer and business confidence. According to data from Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) and Capgemini, online retail sales increased 18% year over year.

This growth points to a strong increase in 2014, and IMRG forecast that online retail sales would grow 17%. The average UK consumer spent £78 (nearly $121.88) online in January, compared with £76 ($118.75) in December and £74 (close to $115.63) one year ago. Travel sales have soared, increasing 233% month on month, although this is likely also related to the particularly grim post-Christmas weather.

eMarketer estimates that the UK leads the rest of Western Europe for B2C ecommerce sales, with $109.63 billion in 2014, close to double the second-largest market, Germany ($58.00 billion).

The soaring spend is not the only factor to distinguish the UK. Device usage for digital purchases also varies, according to Riverbed research conducted by Loudhouse Research in July 2013. When it came to buying digitally, UK digital buyers registered above both France and Germany for all devices except desktop computers—by a very small margin (70% in the UK, compared with 71% in both Germany and France).

Where the UK really stands out is in the use of smart devices, particularly tablets. Tablets already account for 10.4% of UK retail ecommerce sales, and mobile sales pushed the UK to a record e-Christmas. Riverbed found that 42% of UK digital buyers used such a device, compared with 31% in Germany and 24% in France. Smartphone usage was also significantly higher in the UK, where consumers use their smart devices to buy—something their European neighbors will most likely start to do once ecommerce sales really begin to take off.

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