'Tis the season to be jolly at last, and the UK's 25 million online shoppers have been getting into the full swing of the Christmas spirit to record the highest ever monthly spend on online goods and services last month. In fact, according to Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), £3.26 billion was spent online during November: a quick calculation shows that this adds up to a startling £4.57 million an hour – a 44.7 per cent increase from the same period last year.
The ease of use and convenience that most e-commerce sites now offer appear to have struck a chord with a large sector of the British population, who increasingly prefer to buy their Christmas presents from the comfort of their own home, rather than braving the lethal combination of large crowds on the high street and the inevitable end of year bad weather. The increase in sales is more than £500 million higher than October of this year, a figure that is ten times the average monthly increase of £50 million per month seen since the start of 2006.
Commenting on the near exponential growth of the UK online market, IMRG's CEO James Roper, said:
"In 2000, the first year in which the IMRG collected hard online sales data, Christmas trading was worth well under half a billion pounds and we thought that was huge at the time. Now we can see that the e-retail market is just getting into its stride, with large potential for long-term growth."
While retailers of CDS, DVDs, books and computer games have been cashing in on the online spending trend for some time now, more unexpected market sectors also appear to be jumping on the bandwagon: fashion trade shows and haute couture boutiques in London, for instance, have seen a massive upsurge in web-based buyers, with well-known online fashion stores turning to the trade shows to source short-order fashion trends.
Asos.com in particular has seen excellent results, reporting a 93 per cent rise in sales from April to September this year. This shows that even more traditional industries are now aggressively pursuing the online market, a strategy that they have been notoriously slow to take up.
The message to brands is clear: the e-commerce market is entering a mature stage, and consumers expect immediate, intelligent, and appropriate service from retailers and brands alike. Users also desire the ability to find what they're looking for immediately on their preferred search engine or shopping service, such as Froogle or Google Base. Providers that do listen and offer the required services have every chance to do well in this massively burgeoning market.