Report forecasts strong Christmas for online sales

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Online retail continues to grow in the UK with nearly one billion parcels dispatched in 2014 and a strong Christmas forecast by industry analysts IMRG.

While the IMRG MetaPack Delivery Index detailed a predicted end-of-summer lull, with August orders down 13.6% month-on-month, year-on-year growth in 2014 is up to 20%.

Now, based on previous e-tail delivery patterns, it is believed online sales will grow by 10% in the run up to Christmas seeing 120 million orders placed in December alone. This should result in 900 million orders or 930 million parcels dispatched over the course of 2014.

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Andrew Starkey, head of e-Logistics for IMRG, said: "With three years of data in the Index we can now predict the annual pattern of when and where these deliveries will be made. This means we can confidently anticipate that a record 120 million orders will be dispatched by UK retailers in December alone."

The Index also revealed that delivery service performance improved during August with close to 94% of deliveries on time which is higher compared to the same period for the last two years. Overall the proportion of orders either late or not delivered at the first attempt was 10.72% in August compared to the monthly average of 11.6% over the last 12 months.

Starkey added: "Quality of service is higher this August than in the previous two years which bodes well for the peak period. Some delivery problems relating to address queries seem to be on the rise so retailers need to keep an eye on this."

The Index also revealed that more online customers are selecting premium shipping options, with next day/specified day deliveries accounting for 28% of all shipping in August, compared to 19% the previous August.

Angela O’Connell, marketing and strategy director at MetaPack, explained: "The revival in premium delivery services will have been driven by many factors. It does suggest that consumers are feeling more comfortable in making last minute purchasing decisions, knowing they can trust retailers to make next day deliveries successfully. Giving customers more choice and freedom on deliveries will underpin how well the industry handles the pressures of the Christmas peak. It seems that August was a dry run for these alternatives and unsurprisingly shoppers have seized the opportunity to take greater control, supporting further investment in Sunday delivery and click and collect services."

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