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IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index: £24 billion spent online over festive period

14 Jan 2016

London – The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index have revealed that online retail sales recorded a solid 11% Year-on-Year increase in 2015, equating to approximately £114 billion spent online. The annual performance is slightly under IMRG and Capgemini’s 2015 forecast of 12% growth. For 2016, their respective prediction is the Index will record a further 11% growth, with total e-retail sales estimated to be worth £126 billion by year end.

The Christmas shopping period as a whole, defined as the eight weeks between 1st November and 26th December, saw £24.4 billion spent online; a 12% annual increase, and a record for the Index.

The Index figures show that the greatest concentration of sales during the Christmas period (17%) took place during the week of Black Friday, commencing 22nd November. During what has become the biggest event in the retail calendar, online sales increased 62% on the previous week, with shoppers splashing out an estimated £4.3 billion on discounted goods. This represents a significant increase on the 44% growth recorded during the same period in 2014, and 20% in 2013, before Black Friday existed in the UK.

Alex Smith-Bingham, Head of Digital, Capgemini, commented:  “2015 has been another massive year in terms of consumer spending, but what the Index reveals is just how dominant the online channels have become. In just two years Black Friday has shifted from a high-street event to an online one, with retailers extending their discounting over a week, rather than a single day. We also saw mobile confirm its role as a primary shopping channel, providing consumers with an unprecedented level of convenience. In 2016 I’m confident we’ll see this influence increase even further with mobile representing over half of all sales made online.”

Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG said: “Rounding off a mixed year for e-retail, where we saw single-digit growth in several months, the UK online retail industry recorded a solid performance in December, with sales growth significantly higher than the same month in 2014. With December being the wettest since records began, it appears the unseasonal weather, together with growth in mobile commerce helped to boost online sales over the festive period. As we observed in 2014, the effect of Black Friday resulted in November being the peak month for the online retail industry as consumers brought forward much of their Christmas spending, no doubt boosted by promotional activity around Black Friday.

“Sales via smartphones continue to grow at a significantly higher rate than those via tablets, with sales growth during December reaching the highest recorded during 2015 at 117.5% year-on-year.  While tablets continue to account for the largest share of mobile commerce, significantly, during December four in 10 m-retail sales were completed on a smartphone, compared with 28% penetration in December 2014.”


In terms of shopping sectors, the Index revealed that what consumers are purchasing online has shifted during 2015. The more discretionary items – those sectors traditionally associated as treats – have grown, whilst those that have historically driven the Index have fluctuated throughout the year. 2015 saw the sales of gifts, health & beauty, and travel increase 18%, 22% and 16% between 2014 and 2015. This contrasts with electricals and clothing which recorded a comparatively low 3% and 11% on the previous year, while home & garden sales were down 2% year-on-year.


m-Retail in 2015 reported a 42% growth on the previous year, with 45% of all online sales made via a mobile device during the third quarter (August to October). Such is the ballooning influence of mobile technology, for the second year in succession, all growth in the Index has been driven by sales made on a mobile.


[1] Christmas period defined as 8 weeks: w/c 1st November – 26th December

Industry Quotes:

Mark Felix, Director Online Trade, John Lewis said: “Christmas 2015 had three distinct sales peaks – Black Friday, Christmas and Clearance. As well as strong performances across all our product areas, we also saw customers shopping across a variety of channels and our shops and website worked together effectively. Overall, online accounted for 40% of sales over the Christmas period and mobile continued to be our fastest-growing channel, with sales from smartphones and tablets up over a third.”

Nigel Oddy, CEO of House of Fraser comments: “We are delighted with our Christmas trading performance both in terms of sales growth and margin improvement.

“This year, we saw a very strong start to the key Christmas season with Black Friday being particularly strong online, with sales up 40% on the year – our biggest online day ever. Our stores have also performed well over the festive period, in particular our recently refurbished stores which showed strong growth in the final week before Christmas.”

Nigel Richards, Managing Director, Brora said: “Online sales for Black Friday were up 150% on last year while Cyber Monday saw a 130% increase, giving a strong start to Christmas. Careful logistics planning and cooperation from key carrier partners ensured customers still received a positive overall experience. While the warm weather inevitably impacted trade during December, particularly with accessories, Brora resisted going into sale pre-Christmas and this has resulted in a particularly good early January.”

Michael Durbridge, Director of Omni-Channel, B&Q commented: “Over the end of November / December period, sales were higher than expected online with 31% growth year on year. We saw a significant increase in the use of our Click & Collect service which accounted for half of the sales increase. This was particularly prominent in the week before Christmas and the week after Christmas.

“We also saw a significant 4 percentage point uplift in the proportion of touchscreen device traffic to B&Q website (smartphone & tablet) from Christmas Day onwards.”

Neil Sansom, Chief Executive, said: “ saw a significant move online this Christmas from its traditional catalogue based ordering channel and this helped sales considerably beat the previous year’s sales over the Christmas period. We believe online sales will be the main source of our projected growth in the future.”

About the ‘IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index’

The IMRG Capgemini Index, which was started in April 2000, tracks ‘online sales’, which we define as ‘transactions completed fully, including payment, via interactive channels’ from any location, including in-store. 

Over one hundred e-retailers now regularly contribute data to the IMRG Capgemini Index, including

A. Hume Country Clothing, Amara, Appliance House, Arcadia Group (Burton, Top Man, Top Shop, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis, Miss Selfridge), Ask Direct,, B&Q, Ben Sherman, Berry Bros & Rudd, Blacks,, Boots, Brora,, Carphone Warehouse, Charles Tyrwhitt, Clarks, Clinkards,,, Damart, Debenhams, Deckers, Dunelm Mill, Effortless Skin, Ethical Superstore,, Firebox, First Choice, Freemans Grattan Holdings (Freemans, Grattan, Look Again, Kaleidoscope, Curvissa, Swimear365, Witt International UK), Game, Get The Label,, House of Fraser,, JD Sports, JD Williams, John Lewis Partnership,, Lakeland Furniture, Liz Earle, LK Bennett, M and M Direct, Made in Design, Majestic Wine, Marks & Spencer,  Millets, Moss Bros, Naked Wines,, New Look, Next,, Oasis,,,, QVC, River Island, Scales Express, Schuh, Scotlight Direct, Scott,,, Shop Direct Home Shopping (Littlewoods, Very, Very Exclusive, Serenata Flowers, Silentnight, Size, Sofa and Home, Sparkling Strawberry,,, The Body Shop, The Great Gift Company, The Mat Factory, The White Company, TUI UK, Turton Wines, Universal Music,  Waitrose, Within Home, Woods of Shropshire & Wynsors World of Shoes.

About IMRG

For over 20 years, IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) has been the voice of e-retail in the UK. We are a membership community comprising businesses of all sizes – multichannel and pureplay, SME and multinational, and solution providers to industry.

We support our members through a range of activities – including market tracking and insight, benchmarking and best practice sharing. Our indexes provide in-depth intelligence on online sales, mobile sales, delivery trends and over 40 additional KPIs.

Our goal is to ensure our members have the information and resources they need to succeed in rapidly-evolving markets – both domestically and internationally.

About Capgemini

Now with 180,000 people in over 40 countries, Capgemini is one of the world’s foremost providers of consulting, technology and outsourcing services. The Group reported 2014 global revenues of EUR 10.573 billion. Together with its clients, Capgemini creates and delivers business, technology and digital solutions that fit their needs, enabling them to achieve innovation and competitiveness. A deeply multicultural organization, Capgemini has developed its own way of working, the Collaborative Business ExperienceTM, and draws on Rightshore®, its worldwide delivery model.

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