The sheer volume of people shopping in London's West End right now, certainly puts the 'Circus' into Oxford Street and makes it hard to believe the reports of the tough year that the British high street has actually endured.
But London's West End is always an anomaly and never more so than at this time of year. Or are these shoppers the new breed omnichannel shoppers - so vital to the holistic retail ecosystem and so ignored in the Portas Review?
Meanwhile the digital high street has been consistently flourishing throughout 2012. The Office for National Statistics has confirmed that 19 percent of all sales are now secured online and IMRG anticipates a further 12 percent increase in online sales over the Christmas period - reaching a total of £77 billion for this year in the UK.
The Economist Intelligence Unit, also released their Retail 2022 report. In it they forecast that online shopping will account for at least a third of UK retail commerce by 2022, up from 13 percent, strengthening the UK's position as a global leader in the market, second only to the States in terms of market value. And this market has grown exponentially recently, with 30 percent of all EU cross border trade already going through UK retailers.
So during 2012, e-commerce websites have had to become a lot more than just online shop windows. With consumer expectations continually increasing, the competitive market place has created a demand for new technologies and rich media to support a seamless shopping experience across all platforms, to drive consumers to conversion points and gain competitive advantage. As the BBC simply observed: "We shop on phones, compare on Google and ask our Twitter friends what they think."
And whilst most often price is the biggest driver for consumers when deciding which website to spend their money with, especially around Christmas-time, if satisfied by their online experience, they are often loyal too. A whopping 57 percent of consumers consistently frequent and shop at only a handful of favourite sites that they trust and enjoy.
So 2013 will be about getting all these moving parts right.
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