Survey Shows Retailers Pinning Their Hopes for Growth in 2007 on the Internet

Fifty-seven small to medium retailers responded to the Actinic email survey, and reported an average 96% increase in online turnover for November and December 2006 compared with the same period twelve months ago. Most of the increase came from customers spending more of their budget online. Nevertheless, the survey found the overall number of online shoppers also rose over the same period, by 30%. Overall, the experience of Mark Larcombe at Kave Theatre Services is typical: "The number of customers is roughly the same", he says, "but the spend per customer is more."

Far more companies expected to see growth in business through the internet than through traditional channels. 75% of respondents expected online sales to grow in 2007, compared with only 25% who expected to see offline growth. Ben Biscoe of Fairyglass Jewellery comments, "I have 12 years experience as a brand manager in a specialist market, and this year has been the hardest for offline retailers for at least a decade."

The survey suggests that companies who sell online generate, on average, about 27% of their business by this route. (This figure does not include ecommerce specialists, defined here as any company doing 75% or more of its business online).

The shift towards online shopping continues to be driven by benefits to both retailers and their customers alike. "Ecommerce, for me, is the only way to do business now. It's quick and easy, and saves a lot of time, travel and parking expense too," comments Karen Smith of Nails Plus Beauty. "As a business, I can take more orders and deal with them faster as the client does not always need to speak with us before ordering, plus clients can order 24/7 at their convenience."

Not everyone is happy with the growth in internet trading, however. John Sollars of Stinkyink says, "My postman said that this Christmas was the busiest he had ever experienced in 21 years on the post, and it was all down to that bloody internet!"