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UK Ecommerce 2020

Digital Buying Takes Hold as Pandemic Decimates the High Street

About This Report
Physical retail has suffered hugely under the weight of the coronavirus. Ecommerce has benefited to the tune of a 14.7% rise in sales this year, and digital habits are forming that will last beyond the pandemic.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

The coronavirus pandemic has hastened the move to digital shopping among UK consumers. People formed new habits during lockdown, and these behaviors are set to stick beyond 2020, as the high street is unlikely to fully recover.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected retail ecommerce in the UK?

The lockdown orders, which were in effect from March 23, left the UK population unable to shop in-store. From June 15, nonessential stores can begin reopening. Digital retail became a necessity for many, as evidenced by our latest forecast. Growth in retail ecommerce will spike this year, followed by a slight recalibration in 2021 and strong growth thereafter. We expect ecommerce will account for an ever-greater proportion of total retail sales.

How has the pandemic affected physical retail?

The UK high street has been closed for business, grocery aside, with severe effects on nonecommerce sales. Restrictions are beginning to ease, but with digital habits having embedded themselves in the consumer psyche, we don’t expect physical retail sales to reach pre-pandemic levels again.

Which devices will benefit most from the growth in ecommerce sales?

We don’t necessarily expect the shift to mcommerce (from desktop/laptop commerce) to change much from our previous forecast. However, mobile’s continued importance will become apparent through 2024, by which time mcommerce will account for one-fifth of total retail sales.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report presents our latest forecasts for UK retail, ecommerce and mcommerce sales and examines the pandemic’s effects on shopping habits.

KEY STAT: UK retail ecommerce sales will account for 27.5% of total retail sales this year, and that proportion will approach one-third by 2024. The post-pandemic hit to physical retail will be felt far into the future.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. UK Retail and Ecommerce Sales
  1. Retail Mcommerce Sales
  2. Key Takeaways
  1. Read Next
  2. Media Gallery


Bill Fisher


Monica Peart
Senior Director, Forecasting
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