Private investment firm Comvest Partners acquires the financially troubled e-retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.
British shoppers spent $13.66 billion in the month before Christmas—a record.
While U.K. shopping districts may be covered in lights and glittering trees, many British consumers preferred the shopping view from their couches last month. U.K. e-retail sales increased 18% in November compared with November 2011 to reach approximately $13.66 billion, according to research from IMRG, an e-retail trade association in the U.K., and consulting firm Capgemini. That figure is also a 25% increase compared to online sales in October.
November marks the first time U.K. online monthly sales have reached more than 8 billion pounds (US $13 billion) since the two firms began tracking U.K. web sales in 2000.
“E-retail continues to be the growth engine of an otherwise struggling retail sector and as online spending exceeds 8 billion pounds in one month, we can see just how integral the online and mobile channels have become to the shopping experience,” says Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini.
Online sales of health and beauty and gift items got an especially nice sales boost. Health and beauty web sales increased 82% in November compared with a month earlier and 12% compared with November 2011. Meanwhile, as shoppers tucked in to their present buying, gift spending rose 132% last month compared with October and 38% compared with a year earlier. And online sales of clothing grew 20% in November compared to November 2011.
Mobile commerce sales also posted impressive gains, growing 309% compared to November 2011.
“The robust performance in November is a clear indicator that festive shoppers are using the Internet more than ever before in the run-up to Christmas,” says Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG. An increasing number of online retailers are offering next-day delivery, order online and pick up in store, and later last order dates for guaranteed delivery before Christmas Day, she says.
Several U.K. online retailers echo the report’s findings.
“November was fantastic for Prezzybox as we witnessed 55% year-on-year (sales) growth,” says Zak Edwards, managing director at the online gift retailer. He says much of the growth likely came from an aggressive social media campaign and web site updates including a ‘Save for Later’ feature and a ‘Secret Santa Gift Finder’.
Gareth Jones, group retail and strategy director at Shop Direct Group No. 7 In the Internet Retailer Top 400 Europe, says mobile sales at his business posted impressive gains, with sales stemming from smartphones and tablets amounting to 24% of total online spend in November. “That represents phenomenal year-on-year growth of more than 250%—a trend that shows no sign of slowing,” he says. Shop Direct operates several U.K. e-commerce sites including department stores Littlewoods and Very.co.U.K.
Gift e-retailer Buyagift.com says its November sales grew more than 27% compared to November 2011, traffic grew by 23% and average order value grew 10%. Alison Wade, head of marketing for the retailer, says a big part of the growth stemmed from having a wide assortment of gifts for sale costing around 99 pounds (US $161).