One-fifth of UK retail spend could be online by 2024

As shoppers continue to shift away from visiting physical stores and gravitate towards the convenience of shopping via digital channels, UK online spend is set to reach £75bn by 2024, rising 30.4% over the next five years, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The company’s latest report, ‘UK Online Retailing 2019-2024’, reveals that the online channel is forecast to account for 19.8% of UK retail spend by 2024, with clothing & footwear remaining the largest product sector as retailers continue to provide a seamless online shopping experience.

Sofie Willmott, Lead Retail Analyst at GlobalData, commented: “Clothing specialists continue to develop their online proposition with many players now offering easy to use credit options like Clearpay and Klarna’s buy now, pay later, driving online conversion and giving shoppers another reason to choose the online channel over stores. Often first to market with tech developments, ASOS last week launched its ‘See my fit’ augmented reality tool which enables browsers to view selected items of clothing on different size models to help with purchase decisions and potentially reduce return rates.”

Despite the online channel making up only a small proportion of the food & grocery market (7.3% in 2019), this sector will be the biggest contributor in terms of online value growth over the next five years, rising £5.0bn to reach £16.2bn, making it the second-largest product category behind clothing & footwear. Although just over one third of UK online shoppers have purchased food & grocery online in the past 12 months, compared to almost two thirds that have bought clothing & footwear online*, food spend is set to rise sharply as shoppers continue to seek convenience, become more comfortable buying a wider range of items and grocers improve fulfilment times.

Willmott concludes: “As growth in physical store sales continues to elude many retailers, particularly in non-food product sectors, investment should be focused online to ensure websites and fulfilment options are constantly improved, in order to remain competitive.”

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