October 24, 2013, 1:14 PM

43% more Europeans shop via mobile this year

U.K. department store John Lewis predicts this Christmas will be the first dominated by mobile.

Amy Dusto

Associate Editor

Lead Photo

This summer, 43% more European consumers in Spain, France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom used smartphones to access a mobile retail site or app compared to the number who did the same during a three-month period last year, according to web and mobile measurement firm comScore Inc. Among those browsing with smartphones, 14.6% say they used their device to make a purchase in August.

ComScore drew its data from an online survey of “a nationally representative sample of mobile phone subscribers age 13 and above” in each country, the firm says.

Between summer 2012 and summer 2013, the fastest mobile shopping growth was in Spain (66.5%) and Italy (61.3%), while the most consumers using smartphones to shop were in Germany (9.9 million) and the United Kingdom (9.7 million), comScore finds. France had both the second-slowest year-over-year growth rate for mobile shopping—35.9%, beating the United Kingdom’s 29.5%—and the second-fewest number of smartphone owners—3.34 million, just above Spain’s 3.28 million.

On average during the three months ended in August, comScore provides the following percentages of smartphone shoppers in the five European countries who bought items in these categories:

  • Clothing or accessories, 5.4%.
  • Consumer electronics or household appliances, 3.8%.
  • Printed books, 3.8%.
  • Tickets, 3.4%.
  • Personal care or hygiene products, 2.6%.

At least one European retailer expects to draw even more mobile sales during the holidays this year.  London-based department store chain John Lewis Plc, No. 13 in the 2013 Europe 500, predicts that smartphone and tablet traffic combined will surpass PC traffic on Christmas day, the retailer says. Last year, mobile accounted for nearly 50% of traffic to its e-commerce site on Christmas, though the following day, Dec. 26 (the Boxing Day holiday in the U.K.), was the busiest for mobile in 2012, with 920,000 mobile visits, it says. This year, John Lewis predicts mobile traffic will overtake desktop traffic at 5 p.m. Dec. 25.

“Over the last 12 months, we have seen a significant increase in sales via mobile devices,” says the retailer’s online director, Mark Lewis. Mobile now accounts for 40% of all traffic to JohnLewis.com, up 115% year over year, he says. “We expect this to increase dramatically during the festive period as customers shop on the go, and we anticipate that Christmas Day will be the tipping point for mobile.”

The retailer also notes that fashion in particular has become a hot mobile shopping category, with 78% of its fashion online purchases now coming from mobile devices. Still, every category has mobile potential, according to Lewis. “Although customers are more likely to shop for lower-value items on mobile devices, there are a significant proportion of customers purchasing big-ticket items,” he says. For instance, he says, the most expensive item the retailer has sold from its mobile site is a TV for 7,000 British pounds ($11,316 USD).

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