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Quarter of all UK shopping now happens on mobile devices

UK’s high-street spend is the lowest across Europe as mobile devices account for a growing portion of online shopping

Shopping on mobile devices now accounts for a quarter of retail spending across Europe, according to research by Mastercard.

The study found that 27% of spending in Europe takes place on mobile devices, and 57% is done through online channels.

About 40% of spending in the UK happens in stores, making high-street spending in the UK the lowest across Europe, according to the research.

Janne Karppinen, head of retail at Mastercard UK, said one of the best ways to encourage people back to high-street stores is to use technology in stores to provide a better and more interesting shopping experience.

“The most successful stores are always gearing themselves around the overall shopping experience,” she said. “These shops are becoming places to interact and personalise products, rather than simply a place to buy things. We expect to see this trend to grow as smaller retailers realise they can offer something the online world can’t.” 

Russia had the highest percentage of shoppers who were buying in store, at 59%, while only 20% of Russian shoppers made purchases through a tablet or mobile.

But many other countries mirrored the trend in the UK, with 44% of consumers shopping on the high street in Germany and Hungary, and 50% using stores in Italy and Poland.

Overall across Europe, 51% of spend took place in physical locations, and 49% online through digital means.

As retail footfall continues to decline because of people’s digital shopping habits, retailers are being forced to adapt the way they interact with customers, providing products and services across many channels while using data to offer a personalised experience.

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In the UK, two of the most popular categories of goods shopped for on mobile were clothing and accessories, and food and beverages. Some 45% of UK shoppers have bought food and beverages through mobile devices – the highest proportion in Europe.

About 80% of UK customers have shopped on their mobiles while sitting on the sofa, and 6% have done so in the bath.

Consumers are becoming increasingly digital, using online shopping to supplement a convenient lifestyle, which is pushing physical stores to change their approach.

More than 30% of UK shoppers bought travel products or tickets for events through mobile devices, a nod to the recent trend of customers sinking more cash into experiences than products.

To combat changes in consumer behaviour, many brands are aiming to make stores destinations for experiences rather than purchases, with many focused on using startups to help them on their digital journey. Experts suggest collaboration between brands could be the future of physical retail.

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