Death of the High Street: Brits Lead the World in Switch to Shopping Online

High Street
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British consumers are leading the world in the relentless switch to online shopping.

According to data from Barclays — which accounts for roughly a fifth of all card transactions in the United Kingdom — some 29 per cent of all credit/debit card purchases in 2017 were made online, Business Insider reports.

This represents a huge increase on 2011, when the figure was just 17 per cent — and projections suggest half of all card purchases will be online by 2030.

Barclays online share of overall spending

Source: Barclays, via Business Insider

Office for National Statistics figures show online spending in Britain is up 10.2 per cent to an average of £1.2 billion a week, meaning Brits now lead the world in online shopping — outstripping Sweden, the United States, and the Eurozone currency area, according to Nomura analyst Jordan Rochester.

While this trend is generally considered to be bad news for traditional brick-and-mortar high street retailers, it may well be good news for consumers.

Rochester suggests that global inflation has been held down by a combination of savvy online shoppers being able to hunt out better prices for items more easily, thus increasing competition among sellers to offer the best value for money, and sellers themselves being able to save on the expenses associated with purchasing or renting a physical retail unit — and passing part of those savings on to the consumer.

“There are now more mobile phone subscriptions in the world than people, rising to a level where the world’s poorest households are more likely to have access to a mobile phone than to clean water,” he added.

“The argument for lower goods price inflation is clear; with smartphones, not only is online shopping more convenient, but while trying out goods in typical bricks and mortar stores you can decide to buy online for less (‘Showrooming’).”

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