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Two thirds of UK e-retailers predict online sales surge in 2013

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By Jessica Davies, News Editor

January 2, 2013 | 2 min read

Two thirds of UK online retailers are predicting sales growth for 2013 despite the high street seeing its worst year since 2008, according to a Royal Mail survey.

The poll, revealed over half of SME e-retailers saw an increase in sales in 2012, while two thirds (64 per cent) are confident those sales will rise further in 2013.

However 70 per cent of respondents said they believe competition is more fierce than it was two years ago, a factor driven by online and mobile shopping.

The number of people that use smartphones and tablets to buy items continues to increase, which means they are shopping around less, according to a third of the e-retailers in the poll.

Meanwhile over a third of SME e-retailers are prioritising mobile development, with 35 per cent planning mobile apps for 2013, while ten per cent are poised for launch in the coming months.

Almost six in ten e-retailers (56 per cent) said the increase in the number of websites selling goods has fueled increased competition for sales, while half said customers are more price sensitive.

Over half (57 per cent) of SME e-retailers said attracting new customers is among their biggest challenges to meeting their predicted sales forecasts, according to the poll. Other challenges include competitive pricing and building customer loyalty to drive repeat purchases.

Traditional high street stores have struggled in the last year, leading to multiple chains closing, with more predicted to follow suit this year. Online sales were booming in the run-up to and post-Christmas, with 107 million visits to websites on Christmas day – up 86 per cent on Christmas in 2011, according to Experian Hitwise.

Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels, said, “Our study shows online retailers are responding to the needs of shoppers to grow sales in an increasingly competitive marketplace."

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