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Tipping Point! Nearly half of non-food shopping now done online

Tipping point! Nearly half of non-food shopping is now done online as custom moves further away from High Street

  • Data from the British Retail Consortium and accountants KPMG shows 47.8% of non-food items were bought online during December including Christmas gifts
  • Experts say Covid means last year was the worst on record for retail sales growth
  • The British Retail Consortium is calling for an extension to business rates relief

Almost half of all non-food purchases in December were made over the internet.

The figures point to a permanent change in shopping habits that will see thousands more store closures and reshape the nation’s town centres and high streets.

The proportion of non-food items, including Christmas gifts, bought online last month was 47.8 per cent, according to data from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and accountants KPMG.

New data has shown that more than 40 per cent of non-food items were bought online as the UK went through multiple lockdowns in 2020. Pictured: A deserted Carnaby Street, London

This was no one-off as the equivalent figure for the whole of 2020 – a year in lockdown – was an astonishing 46.1 per cent.

Chief executive of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, said: ‘Covid has led to 2020 being the worst year on record for retail sales growth.

‘With shops still closed for the foreseeable future, costing stores billions in lost sales, many retailers are struggling to survive.

‘To avoid the unnecessary loss of shops and jobs the Government should announce an extension to business rates relief for the worst-affected businesses as soon as possible.’

In a separate study, Springboard, which records foot traffic in high streets, found the figures were down by more than 70 per cent last week compared to a year ago.

Experts say the pandemic made 2020 the worst year on record for retail sales growth and have called on Government to extend the business rates relied for the worst-affected businesses

 The collapse of Debenhams and the Arcadia group, which owns the likes of Topshop, are a harbinger of further closures that will leave a black hole at the heart of many town centres.

The Government has responded by suggesting radical changes to planning rules that will allow redundant shops and office blocks to be converted to housing.

UK Head of Retail at KPMG, Paul Martin, said: ‘Further restrictions and the closure of many non-essential shops resulted in a dismal December performance for retailers on the high street and conditions will continue to be challenging as we enter another national lockdown.’

Research by Barclaycard showed internet spending in December was up by 52.2 per cent on the same month last year.

It found an 88 per cent rise in the amount spent on food and drink online.

Spending online at specialist retailers, such as toy shops, jewellers and gift shops, was up by 61.9 per cent, while spending with internet fashion stores leapt 34 per cent.

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