Commissioned by law firm Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD), the report says that the growth in UK online sales from the current 19% to 53% by 2028 will be powered by three primary factors; the changing demographic of the UK adult population, the development of faster, cheaper, in-home deliveries and fewer physical stores. The research conducted by Retail Economics showed that 62% of 16-24-year olds (Gen Z) shop online at least every fortnight (compared with just 29% aged over 65 years), averaging around three online purchases per month, while millennials (22.1%) also spend the highest proportion online. Over half (53%) of Gen Z consumers said smartphones influenced them most in terms of ‘awareness’ of new retailers/brands compared with just 3% of those aged over 65. All age categories considered, online footwear purchasing currently represents 21.7% of all online shopping and clothing 30.1%.

The study also revealed that the top three factors that would accelerate online shopping for consumers are cheaper (47%) and faster (26%) delivery and easier returns (26%), all of which are key areas of investment for retailers looking to own more of the digital market. The UK has observed five consecutive years of net closures of retail stores with declining levels of footfall across high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, and this trend is forecast to continue. “Whilst consumers demand better technology from retailers for a seamless shopping experience, they are also increasingly aware of the need to protect their personal data. Over a quarter of respondents have taken some action to limit the amount of data shared with companies, reaching almost a third for 16 – 24-year olds”, said WBD.