UK online sales to outstrip high street by 2026

UK online sales to outstrip high street by 2026

Although the UK's high streets have been hit hard by the credit crunch, sales via the Internet are continuing to soar and will eventually account for more than half of all retail transactions by 2026, according to UK comparison site uSwitch.

Stats from the Office for National Statistics show that high street retailers saw a 3.9% fall in sales in June - the sharpest monthly decline since records began in 1986.

But rather than saving their cash, the UK's 15 million broadband users are turning to e-retailers to make purchases, with record Web sales of £26.5 billion so far this year, according to figures released in July by IMRG, Capgemini and the British Retail Consortium.

USwitch predicts that this trend will accelerate, with online sales expected to soar to £163 billion a year by 2020 - a 44% share of the overall retail market. By 2026, online sales will over take the high street and account for half of all retail sales.

USwitch says the fall in broadband prices and rise in speeds, along with rising fuel prices, has resulted in consumers spending an average of 1.6 hours each week shopping on the net.

Says Steve Weller, communications expert at "With less spending money than ever, higher petrol prices and busier lifestyles, it makes perfect sense for consumers to turn to the internet to fulfil their shopping needs.

"Broadband prices are falling while speeds are getting faster, 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.

"The new figures show that consumers have wholeheartedly embraced online shopping and this trend is set to continue. With 15 million households having access to broadband connections, shoppers have instant access to the global online high street."

Britain is leading the way in Europe when it comes to online shopping, says uSwitch, with total UK online sales in 2007 nearly 40% higher than closest rival Germany, as well as France, Italy and Spain.

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