ONLINE sales of electrical and electronic goods will overtake fashion for the first time this year, according to a new report.
And analysts say internet retail sales by companies without shops will overtake online sales by store-based retailers for the first time by the end of 2015.
Online is putting consumers back in controlRichard Perks, Mintel
The report by consumer analyst Mintel forecasts sales of electrical and electronic goods will take a 29 per cent share of online sales this year, with 12.6 billion items sold – up from 10.7 billion in 2014. As a result, sales of electronic items online are expected to inch above online fashion sales for the first time. While sales of clothing and footwear hit 10.7 billion in 2014, this is expected to rise to 12.4 billion this year, 190 million behind sales of electrical and electronic goods.
Mintel estimates that almost half (48 per cent) of all electrical and electronic good sales will be made online, up from 38 per cent in 2013. The figure compares with 19 per cent of all clothing and footwear sales – up from 15 per cent in 2013, and just 6 per cent of grocery sales, up from 5 per cent in 2013.
However, the forecast for online grocery sales this year of 8.6 billion is expected to make up 20 per cent of total online retail sales, up from 7.5 billion in 2014.
Overall, online retail sales are expected to hit 43.3 million this year, or 12.7 per cent of all retail sales.
By 2020, total annual online sales are expected to rise by 64 per cent to 71.2 billion and are expected to make up 18 per cent of total retail sales.
Despite taking second spot in terms of sales, it is still fashion which is the most frequently purchased item online. More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of online shoppers have bought clothing or footwear online.
Hard-copy music and books (47 per cent) are the second most popular online buy among British shoppers, followed by food and drink (37 per cent), music and video downloads (37 per cent) and electronics (36 per cent).
Richard Perks, director of retail research at Mintel, said: “Online is best at selling goods which are bought on specification or where a wide range is demanded – so books, music and electronics.
“Stores are best for goods where seeing the product is more important or where customers are going to need help in making their choice.
“One of the great strengths of a store-based retailer is that it makes the selection for the customer. Online retailers generally leave the selection to the customer who can then be confronted with a huge choice.”
The research also showed that more than half of online shoppers (53 per cent) would like to be able to order goods online and pay for them in-store, while 48 per cent say they use click-and-collect services to avoid paying delivery charges.
When shopping online from home, 87 per cent used a laptop or desktop computer in the past 12 months, followed by smartphone (33 per cent) and tablets (32 per cent). When shopping away from home, smartphones are the most used device (17 per cent), but laptops (12 per cent) are used more often than tablets (10 per cent).
Mr Perks added: “Online is putting consumers back in control.
“They are better informed and much less inclined to give a retailer the benefit of the doubt.”