Online sales threaten the high street as they set to rise to £162 billion in ten years

13 November 2007
The high street is feeling the heat from rising online sales which are set to reach £40 billion this year and could quadruple to £162 billion a year over the course of the next decade, comparison site uSwitch has predicted.

In 2002, online sales accounted for just two per cent of the total retail spend for the year, but by 2020, this figure is expected to be closer to 40 per cent. The Christmas season will, inevitably, boost these figures and make Britain the web-commerce capital of Europe, when 27 million people will spend a record-setting £14 billion online – an average of £500 each.

These figures result not only from the convenience of shopping from the comfort of one’s own home, but also because there are huge savings to be made on the internet; uSwitch estimates that UK consumers could save more than £13 billion a year by shopping online for such things as everyday shopping and utilities.

Consequentially, 13.5 million British consumers are spending an average of four days a year shopping on the internet and more time is spent shopping online than banking, gaming or downloading music. Another record was broken in July when online transactions totalled £4.2 billion – almost double compared to the previous year.

uSwitch’s study also revealed that British households spend an average of £980 a year online which represents 10 per cent of its total annual shopping bill. More than half of adult internet users in the UK buy holidays, music and DVDs online, making them the most popular commodities on the internet.

Shopping around for goods and services such as credit cards, energy and broadband providers has also become increasingly popular due to the potential savings that can be made, with prices an average 21 per cent cheaper than traditional retailers.

Steve Weller, Head of Communications Services at uSwitch.com, comments: “Not only does shopping online save you time and money, but it can actually pay for itself. Each household can save £500 which pays for your annual broadband cost nearly three times over.

“Over the last five years broadband prices have halved while speeds have gone up, making it cheaper and simpler for consumers to log on instead of going out to the shops. Online security has vastly improved so our peace of mind is greater than ever before. The internet makes it easy to shop around at maybe 40 or 50 different stores in one go to make sure that we are getting the best deals. No doubt, the fact that as a nation we could save a massive £13 billion a year by shopping online is another reason why we as consumers have whole heartedly embraced online shopping.”

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