Belfast Telegraph

Seasonal retail boost with upsurge in 'click and collect' business

By Jamie Stinson

The rise of ‘click and collect’ shopping is set to give Northern Ireland retailers a Christmas boost, with sales expected to increase by 4% this year.

With consumer confidence improving shoppers are due to spend £42.4bn throughout the UK this December — an increase of £1.5bn on last year.

Click and collect sales, which allows shoppers to order online from a variety of retailers and collect the package in a local store, are expected to double on 2013, contributing £2.5bn of sales, according to research by Deloitte.

This predicted rise will be good news for retailers in the wake of a series of gloomy results reported in previous months by the Office for National Statistics, the British Retail Consortium and the Markit Purchase Managers’ Index.

Dr Danny McConnell, technology partner at Deloitte, said: “This is great news for retailers here and further proof that harnessing digital technologies will continue to be the key to success and longevity.

“As click and collect continues to drive traffic to the high street, retailers have an opportunity to increase sales and create added value for their customers.”

Online transactions make up 13% of total sales, double the amount in 2013, the report said, as UK consumers have taken to American traditions, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

This year’s Black Friday was Amazon UK’s busiest ever day, with more than 5.5m orders sold, which works out at around 64 items per second.

Alister Beverley, owner of Yoke Clothing in Belfast, said that Black Friday and Cyber Monday had made more consumers think about their Christmas shopping earlier than they previously would.

“Last week we were up 50% on the same week last year, but whether that will balance out later in the month remains to be seen,” he said.

On Monday, it is estimated 40% of consumers started their Christmas shopping, according to TSB, as the first day of December highlighted that Santa Claus is only a few weeks away.

The predicted growth in sales this Christmas is down to an improvement in the economy and an increase in consumer confidence.

Angela McGowan, chief economist at Danske Bank said: “Many of the economic indicators suggest that households are now in a much better economic position relative to Christmas last year and therefore it would be perfectly reasonable to expect more buoyant retail trade.

“Danske Bank’s most recent consumer confidence index revealed that consumer confidence levels here are already 11 points higher than December last year which again suggests that consumers are much more likely to be dipping into their wallets.

“14,000 more people are in work than this time last year, and inflation is down to 1.3%, which generally translates into more disposable income for local households and a boost to the consumption side of the economy.”

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