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The Biggest Trends for Online Retail in 2016

According to the latest report released by IMRG, online retailers saw sales grow by 11.3% in December 2016 compared with the same period of the previous year.

For the third consecutive month, multichannel retailers have outperformed online only merchants with reported growth of 13.3%. Online only retailers recorded only a 3.8% increase in sales. Interestingly, December 2015 was significantly different - multichannel retailers reported 11.1% growth while online only merchants saw a whopping 19.3% increase in sales.

Sector Performance

The report also revealed that in December 2016 the clothing sector had year on year growth (YoY) of 12.8%.

IMRG report graphic The Electrical sector didn’t fare so well in December 2016 and reported a large decrease in sales compared with the same period of 2015 – down 19.3%. This was due to the fact that most shoppers purchased the electrical items they desired during Black Friday in November.

The best performing sector was Lingerie, reporting a 37.5% YoY growth. Gifts also reported a large uplift - 32.7%.

Over the whole month of December, Britons spent an estimated £11.71bn shopping online.

General December Trends

The average December 2016 basket value was £76, the lowest value of the year but in line with market trends for the month.

Smartphone mobile retail sales broke a new record in December and reported a 54% share of the total online sales. The average basket value for mobile transactions was £77. During the same period in 2015, it was £65.

2016 Overview

Across the whole of 2016, total online sales grew 15.9%, almost exactly matching the IMRG estimate of 16% growth for online retail. By comparison, in 2015, the sector reported a growth rate of 10.9% while in 2014 the industry grew by 14%.

The most successful product category in 2016 was Apparel with a total growth of 18%.

Mobile sales via smartphones reported an overall growth of 79.1% in 2016. In the previous year, the sector had a 92.7% growth rate.

Multichannel retailers fared better when it comes to m-commerce as well, outperforming online only retailers by 55.7%.

Finally, the clothing sector ended 2016 with a total YoY growth of 28.6% for sales made via a mobile device.

The estimated total spend of online shopping in 2016 was £133 bn, up from £114 bn in 2015.

IMRG report graphic 2

Feel as though you should’ve had a better 2016? Prepare for the year ahead with our Peak Periods Countdown Guide.

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