Online shopping may save Christmas for retailers

Nov 05, 2014

Andy Lyon (pictured), partner and retail expert at PwC in Milton Keynes, is expecting only modest growth in Christmas sales figures this year, with consumer confidence still bruised from the past few years.

He said: “Christmas retail over the past few years has been dominated by the cat and mouse game of both consumers and retailers holding their nerve over the timing of spending and pre-Christmas sales. But we expect this year to be slightly different.

“On the one hand, the economic news is good. The UK economy is still recovering and looks set to be one of the fastest growing economies in 2014. But while many economists are feeling positive about the country’s future prospects, this feel-good factor is yet to fully be embraced by consumers.”

Consumer confidence is being suppressed by pressure on disposable income and concerns about the cost of living and worries about ongoing economic instability in the EU.

Retail sales growth in the festive season is most likely to come from online sales, Mr Lyon added. Last year, digital shopping grew by 18% year on year.

“We expect this trend to continue for Christmas 2014 with online sales at around 15-20% as more consumers opt to shop online with their home computers, laptops and increasingly, their tablets and mobile devices.

“Retailers will need to be poised to capitalise on this trend, ensuring they have total retail strategy for the digital age that offers customers a seamless integration of online and offline experiences.

“Consumers still value the store, in the right format and approach, but they expect a more connected experience with online and in-store.” 

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