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November 30, 2012

Christmas optimism for retailers that offer multi-channel shopping

£3.5bn of Christmas retail sales will be purchased on or influenced by smartphones, according to a forecast from business advisory firm Deloitte. It says consumers are using tablets and smartphones to research prices, store Christmas shopping lists and engage with friends and family using social media, as well as, increasingly, to order goods online.

As a result, it predicts that around £3.2bn of in-store Christmas sales will be influenced by smartphones, with another £330m of sales made directly through these devices. A further £500m in sales will be made through tablets.

The findings point to a fairly bright Christmas, especially for online retailers. Overall spending will be up by 1%, says Deloitte, and total online sales will increase this Christmas by 17%. And it says that click and collect — where shoppers pay online but pick up the goods themselves — is fast becoming a preferred shopping method.

Ian Geddes, UK head of retail at Deloitte, said: “There are more reasons to be optimistic than pessimistic this Christmas. Consumer confidence has gradually improved over the course of the year and despite the recent increase in inflation, it is much lower than it was 12 months ago, easing the pressure on households.”

However, Geddes warns that retail success calls for a sophisticated multi-channel approach. “Increasingly, we are seeing examples of certain retailers performing strongly and others weakly within the same sector. Shoppers are responding to those retailers that combine the right products with exceptional customer service across all channels, dynamic and exciting online and mobile sites and a brand that they want to be associated with.”

Colin Jeffrey, head of multi-channel retail at Deloitte, said: “As with recent years, the strongest growth will be found online, with purchases completed on mobile phones double or even triple that of last year. It is also going to be a click-and-collect Christmas, with those retailers who have invested in this service in line to do well as these customers spend more and collections drive footfall into stores. Retailers without flexible collection options and mobile services are failing to meet basic customer expectations and will suffer as a result.”

He added: “We are also beginning to see the power of social commerce, with more and more consumers using Twitter and Facebook to share reviews, offers and product information.”