Shopping by phone to hit £19bn in ten years

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CONSUMERS are set to spend 15 times more money through their mobile phones within a decade, according to new research.

It is predicted Britons will shell out £19.3 billion using phones and tablet computers, compared to £1.3bn currently.

So-called m-commerce is still a small part of retail spending, but Barclays Corporate in Scotland, in a report today, said growth would increase and nearly £1 in every £20 in retail sales will come from mobile devices.

Direct spend only accounts for part of the use of phones, with 52 per cent of consumers using them for research or product comparisons.

The researchers said the rise of mobile shopping would not mean the death of the high street, however, with more than three quarters of retail spending still in shops.

Euan Murray, relationship director at Barclays Corporate in Scotland, said: “M-commerce is still a relatively niche channel, accounting for 0.5 per cent of total retail spend.

“However, with little new shop space coming into play the real growth opportunities lie on the virtual high street and those retailers which are prepared to invest will be at a significant advantage to the competition.”

He added: “Stores have been the mainstay of retail for centuries and this is not about to change, particularly for those purchases which require a high-level of customer interaction such as clothing and footwear.”

The report said m-commerce would grow by 55 per cent in the next five years, the fastest of any retail option. Online sales will grow by 8 per cent and in-store sales by 1.6 per cent. Total retail sales in 2021 are expected to be worth £390bn, with m-commerce accounting for 4.9 per cent of sales.

Technology expert Olly Mann said better graphics and more investment by firms in the mobile versions of their websites will increase shopping by phone.

He said people were more suspicious when images did not load properly on phones and the presentation was not as “slick”.

He said: “British retailers are putting a lot more effort into making their products look good online. And both Amazon and Apple are using their tablet devices as a store front.

“But just because shopping is being done by mobile, we should not assume it’s while being mobile. People are using phones as a second screen while sitting in front of the TV.

“The phone has become part of the shopping experience.”

Barclays Corporate said food and grocery sales would remain top, rising from £292.7million spent in 2011, to £5.067bn in 2021. Clothing and footwear, currently in fifth position, would rise from £270.3m to £3.497bn.

Personal care products would climb into the top five with £3.115bn in spending by 2021. Electricals and homewares would round out the top five in the next decade with £2.182bn and £1.735bn respectively.