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UK: Ecommerce Surpassed 25% of Retail Sales During the 2019 Holiday Season, Brick-and-Mortar Took a Hit

2020 Outlook: Mcommerce to surpass 50% of full-year ecommerce sales

January 23, 2020 (New York, NY) – Strong growth in online sales over the 2019 holiday season propelled the UK retail sector past a milestone. Ecommerce represented 28.2% of all holiday retail sales, surpassing the 25% mark for the first time. Total retail sales for the season amounted to £99.26 billion ($132.33 billion).




“Store closures are a big reason for shopper frustration and the subsequent shift to online as their preferred option,” eMarketer vice president of forecasting Monica Peart said.

Ecommerce sales came partly at the expense of brick-and-mortar*, which dropped 3.8% to £71.27 billion ($95.02 billion) during the 2019 holiday season. That’s the largest percentage drop since we began tracking UK retail spending in 2010.




Looking ahead to 2020, total retail sales (including auto sales) for the full year will grow 1.2% to £487.30 billion ($649.66 billion). That’s the slowest growth rate since 2015, when it was down by 0.2%.

“Brexit has been looming over the retail market for two and a half years with mixed results,” Peart said. “At times, consumers have reacted to the looming Brexit by spending more. In other cases, it’s been a stalling force. What is clear about 2020 is that there will continue to be uncertainty around the implications of Brexit.”

Ecommerce, which is making up an increasing portion of UK retail sales, will grow 8.9% this year to reach £114.26 billion ($152.33 billion). The UK will experience an ecommerce milestone this year, as mcommerce—online sales via tablets and smartphones—will represent half of all online sales for the first time. Mcommerce in 2020 will grow 15.3% to reach £58.05 billion ($77.38 billion). Not surprisingly, smartphones will continue to be the dominant device used for mcommerce, accounting for 62.5% of mcommerce sales this year vs. 36.7% for tablets.




Increasingly, smartphone commerce is the “everywhere and anywhere” shopping opportunity. A growing number of UK smartphone users are now buying a greater variety of products at higher frequencies with the device.


*Figures for total retail and brick-and-mortar include auto sales; ecommerce figures do not.


eMarketer’s forecasts and estimates are based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies. Data is weighted based on methodology and soundness. Each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of available data means the forecasts reflect the latest business developments, technology trends and economic changes.


About eMarketer
Founded in 1996, eMarketer is the first place to look for research about marketing in a digital world.  eMarketer enables thousands of companies worldwide to understand marketing trends, consumer behavior and get the data needed to succeed in the competitive and fast-changing digital economy.  eMarketer’s flagship product, eMarketer PRO, is home to all of eMarketer’s research, including forecasts, analyst reports, aggregated data from 3,000+ sources, interviews with industry leaders, articles, charts and comparative market data. eMarketer’s free daily newsletters span the US, EMEA and APAC and are read by more than 200,000 readers globally.  In 2016 eMarketer, Inc. was acquired by European media giant Axel Springer S.E.


For more information, contact:

Douglas Clark
Global Director of Public Relations

Corinne Weir
Public Relations Coordinator

Posted on January 23, 2020.