UK Retail and Ecommerce 2018: Digital Disrupts, but In-Store Remains Important

UK Retail and Ecommerce 2018: Digital Disrupts, but In-Store Remains Important

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WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report features our latest forecast for retail, retail ecommerce and mcommerce spending for the full year in the UK and the holiday or festive period. We also examine the key trends that have shaped these numbers. 

Executive Summary

Consumers in the UK are spending more online than ever before, but physical stores still account for the lion’s share of retail sales. Digital disruption is a clear and present danger for traditional retailers, but rather than the UK high street dying, as is often reported, it’s undergoing an evolution. And digital plays an important role.

How much do UK consumers spend on retail?

Despite economic uncertainty, consumers continue to spend. This year, retail sales in the UK will grow 4.7%, to reach £466.15 billion ($600.21 billion).

How much is being spent in-store vs. online?

Nonecommerce sales will still contribute the largest proportion to the retail total and will grow by 2.3% in 2018, to £370.16 billion ($476.61 billion). Retail ecommerce will see far stronger growth, though. Online retail spend will grow 14.9% this year, to account for 20.6% of total retail and almost £96 billion ($124 billion).

What are the main trends disrupting the retail sector, and how should retailers respond?

As with most industries, digital, and particularly mobile, has had a huge impact on retailing in the UK. But while some traditional high-street retailers have felt the pressure from digital competition, the average consumer doesn’t necessarily favor digital over physical, or vice versa. Retailers that embrace technological change and offer a seamless customer experience stand to benefit most.

How will the holiday shopping season pan out this year?

As usual, retail sales during the run-up to Christmas will be more heavily weighted toward digital than for the full year—ecommerce will account for 21.6% of total retail during the holidays, while that proportion will stand at 20.6% for the full year. Leading indicators suggest that Christmas shopping trends prelude longer-term trends, so digital’s influence shows no signs of abating.

KEY STAT: Retail ecommerce will account for more than one-fifth of total retail sales in the UK this year, and that proportion will reach 26.8% by 2022.


  1. Executive Summary
  2. eMarketer’s Updated Estimates and Forecast
  3. Retail Trends: Digital Disrupts, but Physical’s Fall Is Nuanced
  4. Key Takeaways

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