Annual spending via mobiles to hit £53.6bn in UK by 2024

The report follows data from the Internet Advertising Bureau that revealed on 9 April that the UK reached a record digital advertising spend of £7.2bn, which was driven by the average British home now owning 7.4 connected devices.

Barclays’ research also revealed that the overall value of retail sales hit £325bn in 2014 – that’s set to rise 8.1 per cent to £351bn in the next five years, before hitting £391bn by 2024.

Observing mobile, the number of tablet users has double in both of the past two years and almost half of all adults now own one. Meanwhile, 75 per cent of Brits are set to own a smartphone by 2019, up from 61 per cent last year and 14 per cent in 2009.

As a result of this device growth, 46 per cent of retailers claim mobiles account for at least some of their sales, but fewer than three per cent consider their business “at the cutting-edge when it comes to being mobile ready”. 

Despite the potential the report depicts, 70 per cent of companies said they don’t have a mobile website or app to support consumers. Of course, Barclays is ready to capitalise on the mobile commerce surge, following integration of its Pingit payment app with Twitter, allowing businesses and users to make transactions through the social network.

Richard Lowe, MD and head of retail & wholesale at Barclays, said: “The size of the retail opportunity is clear for all to see. The question every retailer should be asking themselves is what they are doing about it to not only satisfy today’s consumer but, also tomorrow’s.

“While it may be premature to sound the death knell for desktops and laptops nearly half of consumers claim to be shopping far less on these devices thanks to mobile. With new gadgets and gizmos such as the Apple Watch being launched all the time, this trend will inevitably gain momentum.”

Looking ahead, fewer than a third of retailers said there’s a clear plan in place for mobile investment, while 68 per cent said they have no specific agenda lined up. However, those that did reveal a strategy said a mobile website, app and mobile payment options are priorities.

Retailers that are reluctant to adopt mobile options said it’s because the channel simply shifts sales, rather than providing new and increase business. Elsewhere, some said that mobile is a substantial cost when conducting business online.

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“There is also a lingering notion that mobile shopping is bad for store retailing. The physical high street store still has a fundamental role to play and the development of hybrids such as click and collect has conclusively demonstrated that stores can be supported rather than hindered by the growth of digital commerce,” Lowe added.

“Inevitably practices such as ‘showrooming’ leads to some sales shifting online but, with almost three quarters of consumers using their mobile devices whilst out and about, ignoring this trend would be a missed opportunity. Retailers must cater for the mobile consumer in order to remain relevant.”

In keeping with showrooming – a trend that sees consumers price check online via their mobiles while in stores – the study found that WiFi is actually most desired, as 57 per cent of consumers said all shops should offer free hotspots, while 42 per cent said they always look for connectivity when they’re on the move.

The desire could soon be supported, following the British Retail Consortium aligning with Google, O2 and more on 9 March to digitally “reinvigorate UK high streets” over the next five years.

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