E-commerce: Purchases made via smartphone overtake tablets for the first time in UK

By 2021, more than a quarter (25.8%) of all retail sales will be digital.

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In 2017, for the first time, UK retail ecommerce purchases made via smartphone will overtake tablets, according to eMarketer’s latest retail ecommerce forecast. This year, UK retail ecommerce purchases made by using a smartphone will be worth nearly £18 billion, representing a 49.7% share of all retail mcommerce sales. By comparison, purchases made via tablet will account for 49.4% of mobile outlays, with the remaining, fractional portion assigned to sales made via feature phone. By 2021, retail ecommerce purchases made via smartphone sales will represent 56.0% of ecommerce sales.

This shift in spending habits is mirrored in overall mobile usage habits in the UK. Tablet penetration in the country has been one of the highest in Europe, but growth has leveled off in the past couple years as people increasingly choose large-screen smartphones as their primary device—which has subsequently impacted ecommerce behaviour.

Overall UK retail ecommerce sales are expected to reach £83.55 billion this year, eMarketer estimates, accounting for more than 19% of total retail sales. By 2021, more than a quarter (25.8%) of all retail sales will be digital.

“To put that into context, the proportion in the US will be less than half of the UK total this year, at just 9.0%,” said Bill Fisher, senior analyst at eMarketer. “Indeed, outside of China, the UK is the world’s most advanced retail ecommerce market in terms of proportional sales. And despite, or perhaps because of, the current economic uncertainty in the UK, ecommerce sales continue to post strong growth.”

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