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UK retail ecommerce sales are expected to top £60 billion ($99 billion) in 2015, helped by a strengthening economy and impressive growth in smartphone-based buying, according to eMarketer's latest forecasts. From a global perspective, the UK will remain the world leader when it comes to retail ecommerce's share of total retail sales, with its share increasing from 14.5% in 2015 to 19.3% in 2019.
Consumers in the UK have long been ecommerce trailblazers, and that leadership will continue as digital shopping and buying behaviors shift rapidly to mobile devices. Retail mcommerce is expected to grow by 37.5% in 2015—a rate more than double that for retail ecommerce sales as a whole. As a result, mobile's share of UK digital commerce will leap to 33.3% this year.
"The rising popularity of smartphones is driving much of retail mcommerce's success in the UK. Bigger screens and better experiences mean smartphones are no longer considered tablets' poor relation when it comes to the retail shopping and buying experience," said Bill Fisher, analyst at eMarketer.
"That said, tablets will continue to play a major role as well, with purchasing via these devices expected to rise considerably throughout the forecast period," Fisher added.
Retail sales via mobile devices are set to grow above expectations for the second successive year—eMarketer made upward revisions to its forecast last year and has done so again, due in large part to various reports of strong mobile activity in the UK during the 2014 holiday season.
Following a remarkable 70.8% year-over-year growth in 2014, UK retail mcommerce sales will see a further 33.3% rise in 2015 to £20.09 billion, accounting for a third of total retail ecommerce sales in the region. By 2019, retail mcommerce sales will near £40 billion, representing 43.7% of total retail ecommerce.
Mcommerce sales are split, in the main, between smartphones and tablets, although the balance remains weighted toward tablets. The proportion of mcommerce carried out on tablet devices will continue to outpace that of smartphones. However, the rising popularity of larger-screen smartphones is having an impact on that dynamic. In 2015, tablet commerce will account for 65.2% of total retail mcommerce in the UK, or £13.10 billion and buying via smartphones will account for £6.79 billion and 33.8% of the total.
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