U.K. Online Holiday Shopping May Reach $12 Billion, IMRG Says

U.K. consumers may spend about 14 percent more online this Christmas as they make increasing use of smartphones and tablet computers to place orders, according to an industry forecast.

Holiday expenditure in the country will rise to about 7.75 billion pounds ($12 billion) in the five weeks starting Nov. 28 from 6.8 billion pounds in the same period last year, Interactive Media in Retail Group forecasts. About 35 percent more Britons will shop using mobile devices, the trade organization said today in an e-mailed statement.

“Shoppers have become very savvy, out of both need and convenience -- we’ll hunt down the best bargains online to get the most out of our Christmas budget, but also because we can, easily and conveniently,” David Smith, IMRG chief marketing and communications officer, said in the statement. “The shopping behavior displayed by the agile consumer reinforces the importance to retailers of offering a multichannel solution.”

About 30 percent of tablet owners and 25 percent of smartphone owners have used their device to shop online, according to a study conducted by IMRG and eDigitalResearch this year. The Web will represent about 12 percent of European retail sales in the Christmas period, up from 6.9 percent three years ago, according to research conducted on behalf of online comparison site Kelkoo by the Centre for Retail Research.

“Consumers are clearly not fazed by interacting with retailers through these devices and the important role they play is only going to increase,” IMRG’s Smith said.

About 3.7 billion pounds will be spent online in the first two weeks of December, though shoppers may look to spread their purchasing over the five-week period and avoid potentially snowy weather, which hurt business in the last two years, according to IMRG. Retailers including Tesco Plc (TSCO) reported holiday sales which were squeezed by icy conditions last year as snow kept customers away from out-of-town supermarkets and shopping streets.

To contact the reporter on this story: Clementine Fletcher in London cfletcher5@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sara Marley at smarley1@bloomberg.net

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