UK online sales have seen 5 years of growth in 12 months

Online retail sales saw the equivalent of five years of growth in just 12 months last year as many shoppers permanently changed their shopping habits.

According to new research from Natwest and Retail Economics, first reported by City AM, ecommerce sales accounted for 28 per cent of all retail spend in 2020, up from 19 per cent a year earlier.

While this rapid shift in shopping habits was driven by successive lockdowns across the UK, the research suggested that the trend was likely to continue long after the pandemic, with 40 per cent of shopper saying it has transformed that way they will shop in the future.

READ MORE: Lockdown fuelling £2.4 billion returns crisis

Online shopping could also continue to accelerate in growth throughout 2021 according to the study, which suggests the lack of holidays, nights out and commutes could drive a boon in consumer spending.

While this is dependent on when shoppers think things might return to normal, with 38 per cent believing this could be as soon as June, 10 per cent of respondents said they believed they would spend more this year than last.

“As the pandemic continues to unfold, many retail and hospitality businesses will remain in survival mode,” chief executive at Retail Economics Richard Lim said.

“They are cutting costs to preserve working capital and attempting to strengthen balance sheets to weather the storm as effectively as possible.

“However, as consumer expectations shift, retail and hospitality business must pivot towards a digital-first proposition that aligns to a new normal.

“Nimble businesses who are able to react quickly can grasp new opportunities in emerging markets, retain loyal customers and thrive as the industry is reformed.”

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