Online e-tail doubles in five years

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The number of online-only e-retailing businesses in the UK has more than doubled in the past five years from 6,700 in 2008 to 14,400 in 2012, a study commissioned by Royal Mail has revealed.

The 21.3 per cent annual growth in companies who sell goods exclusively online compares with a 0.4 per cent average fall each year in the total number of businesses contributing to the UK economy, the study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found. Over this period, the total number of businesses in the retail sector fell by 0.1 per cent a year on average.

Nick Landon, managing director of Royal Mail Parcels said: “Online-only e-retailing has become an increasingly strong area for business start-ups and is making a strong contribution to overall UK economy. With continued growth in online shopping, we can expect more significant contributions to the UK economy in the coming years.”

The CEBR study of ONS data revealed that sales in online-only e-retailing grew by almost 50 per cent between 2008 and 2012. Over the same period, growth in the total retail sector was only 13.6 per cent.

The online-only e-retail sector also made a £2.2 billion gross value added contribution to the UK economy in 2012 – up 4.7 per cent in nominal terms on the previous year. This compared to a 1.2 per cent year on year increase for the retail sector as a whole and 1.6 per cent increase for the UK economy in total.

Around 15,000 new jobs have been created by online-only e-retailing start-ups in the past five years. Since 2008, employment in the sector has increased by 25 per cent to 72,000 jobs in 2012.

The parcels market is at the centre of Royal Mail’s growth strategy. Parcels already account for nearly half of Group revenues and it is targeting growth across all of its parcels networks.

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