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Black Friday led to lowest ever online sales growth in December

UK shoppers spent £21.6bn online for the eight weeks between November 2 and December 27, which was an increase of 13% on 2013, according to the IMRG Capgemini eRetail Sales Index.

But the data showed that, during December, online sales recorded just 5% growth, which was the lowest ever in the Index for this period; confirming that discounting around Black Friday pulled volumes forward during the final week of November.

According to separate figures from Experian and IMRG, an estimated £810 was spent online during Black Friday (November 29), which made it the biggest ever day for online sales.

“While the 5% December online growth is lower than expected, the story of Christmas trading online this year is one of compression,” said Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG. “The anticipated heavy discounting that was very widely communicated in advance of Black Friday served to concentrate the peak around that day in November.”

She said the challenge for the industry would be how to manage this extreme spike in activity going forward.

It comes as the data showed UK online sales increased by 14% to reach £104bn last year. Sales are forecast to grow a further 12% to £116bn by the end of 2015.

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