Online booms – high streets flat – Barclaycard

UK credit card company Barclaycard has released its analysis of shopping trends in the festive period of 2016. Though total retail spending grew by 4% year on year this belied a change in shopping habits. Where online retail grew by 17.9%, high street shopping increased by an almost statistically insignificant 0.2% as against the festive season of 2014.

Online sales accounted for almost a quarter (24.6%) of total spend this year and have grown faster than any period since 2012. Almost every company in the industry is expecting this change to continue with delivery companies making significant investments in capacity and larger retail companies, notably Argos and Amazon, showing signs of bringing their delivery operations in house or extending them significantly.

Major department stores seem to have done better than almost any other high street operation, with in store spend growing 4.5%. Those department stores such as John Lewis with a strong online operation saw their revenues increase significantly, with this element of their revenues increasing by over 18%. Apex Insight reported John Lewis results earlier this week which reflected this trend.

Barclaycard stated: “Supermarkets witnessed a similar story: although in-store spend fell 0.7% in December, a boost of 13.5% to online sales meant the category was flat overall year-on-year. Average transaction values at supermarkets fell 4.8% overall as consumers continued to pursue value from their grocery shopping.”

Chris Wood, Chief Operating Officer at Barclaycard, said of these trends, “In many ways, this Christmas brought to the fore all the shopping trends of 2015. The large spikes in spending, centred around sales days like Black Friday, emphasise consumers’ increasing search for value as they hold back their spending until the best deals emerge. Likewise, whilst online shopping has grown in popularity throughout the year, the strength of consumer preference for digital over the high street was seen in full effect over the Christmas period. As retailers continue to release their Christmas trading updates we expect many to reflect these changing behaviours.”