Incremental gains seen across retail sectors, but digital still far from surpassing in-store sales
Approximately 86% of all retail sales in Great Britain—excluding automotive fuel—were made in-store in 2016, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – UK. But ecommerce’s share of overall retail sales reached 14%, an increase of 1 percentage point over 2015.
Of ONS’ retail categories, only “nonstore retailing”—which includes online-only retailers, but also mail order catalogs and market stalls—outpaced the UK average for percentage of sales made digitally, with an ecommerce share of 77%. In fact, only in the textile, clothing and footwear sector did digital’s share of total sales even match the national average of 14%. Thirteen percent of retail sales made in the “nonspecialized market”—primarily department stores—came via ecommerce, making it the next-nearest sector for such sales.
Among all other retail types, including food stores (where, not surprisingly, 95% of sales were made in-store), household goods and the other nonfood stores, 90% or more of total sales were made in-store. But even here there were positive signs for ecommerce.
ONS’ figures show that ecommerce’s share of sales increased for every retail store category between 2015 and 2016, albeit by modest amounts. The greatest year-over-year growth came from household goods stores (up 3 percentage points), followed by department stores (2 percentage points), as well as increases of 1 percentage point each for food, clothing and the “other” retail category, which tracks specialty retailers such as booksellers, consumer electronics shops, pharmacies and toy stores.