Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium: “After three months of double digit growth for online sales, December saw the third slowest growth rate of 2016 at 7.2 per cent. At first glance this may appear a disappointing figure; but with December taking the second highest volume of online sales in the year, after November, this makes it an extremely tough comparable period. So overall, this is a relatively solid performance.
“As with total sales, there was a shift in spending towards the end of the month compared with last year and a slow start to the festive trading period was offset by a spending spree during the Christmas week. Online growth was also driven by Christmas gift purchases, keeping the beauty and toy categories at the top of the growth rankings for a second month.
“Shopping online is becoming increasingly popular during the festive month. The channel won its greatest share of December sales to date, with nearly a quarter of all purchases being made online. No doubt this was partly due to customers being able to receive deliveries right up to the two days before Christmas, thanks to retailers extending their delivery guarantees this year. The penetration rate for online sales now remains above 20 per cent for the fifteenth consecutive month.”
Paul Martin, newly appointed Head of Retail, KPMG: “Online retail sales remained strong in December, with non-food growth up 7.2% compared to last year. Penetration rates also remained high at 24.3%, suggesting that more shoppers felt comfortable logging in than hitting the shops this Christmas.
“Mirroring high street sales, toys, health and beauty products as well as men’s and children’s footwear proved popular this Christmas. Meanwhile, furniture struggled in light of purchases being prioritised elsewhere and women’s footwear slipped and failed to make it to e-checkouts.
“Most online categories noted sales growth in December, which will of course be welcome news. However, whilst the shopping channel continues to grow in popularity, retailers will need to battle with the logistics of fulfilment and the flurry of goods returned post-Christmas. Retailers will be hoping this doesn’t result in too much of a hangover.”