Deloitte has said that online sales are set to increase by 19 percent as part of a forecasted 3.5 percent increase in the value of total Christmas retail sales.
The financial body states that consumer spend this Christmas to £40.3bn, with online sales set to grow by 19 per cent to £5bn.
“The forecast will provide some Christmas cheer for retailers. Shoppers are expected to loosen purse strings off the back of rising consumer confidence and improving economic conditions,” said Ian Geddes, UK head of retail at Deloitte.
“Flexible delivery could be this year’s battlefield.
“After last year’s click-and-collect Christmas, consumers’ expectations around flexible delivery over the coming festive period are higher than ever before. Store collection is now seen as a basic offering and those retailers without this capability will struggle to convert online sales and lose resulting footfall in-store.
“This year, the consumer will be challenging retailers’ ability to deliver a sofa at home in a specified time-slot; transfer a party dress to their local store for same day collection and drop off their Christmas DVDs at a convenient locker.”
Ben Perkins, head of consumer business research at Deloitte, said: “Innovators in the market continue to raise the bar, developing new fulfilment options to cater for consumers’ needs. For example, some retailers are able to deliver within 90 minutes, whilst others are offering Sunday deliveries, drive-through pick-up points and even collection from your tube station within four hours of ordering.
“However they must balance this against the cost of delivery and recognise the infrastructure and systems that need to be in place to ensure a reliable and efficient service. Retailers are under pressure to secure sales and customer loyalty but ultimately, they need to turn a profit in the process.”
Prior research from Deloitte found that 47 percent of UK consumers think empty high street stores would make convenient collection points to pick up goods ordered on the internet, and a further 36 percent would like to pick up small goods from a dedicated collection point facility.