SPEKE-based online and catalogues retailer Shop Direct reported its busiest Christmas trading period, but said it expects sales to remain flat for the rest of 2013.
In a trading update covering the six weeks to December 29 the business, which includes the Very.co.uk, Littlewoods and isme brands, revealed a 5% increase in total sales, excluding VAT, compared with a 3% increase during the 26 weeks to the end of 2012.
It said the week starting December 9 was its busiest of the year, proving consumers’ trust in the digital retailing model. More than 90,000 parcels were delivered on Christmas Eve.
Shop Direct’s aim to become a leading online and digital retailer was boosted, with 80% of total sales now taking place online, compared with 74% in 2011.
Mobile devices accounted for 28% of all online sales, a 150% jump on the previous year, while 37% of all online customer contacts was by a mobile device. The value of orders placed via mobiles was 8% higher over the last 12 months.
In terms of products, Shop Direct said Christmas 2012 was the year of the tablet, with one tablet sold every 40 seconds during the six week period – more than 91,000 in total.
It said the customer appetite for SMART TVs also began to take off, with 6,000 units sold
Group chief executive Alex Baldock said: “This Christmas was well ahead of last year against strong comparatives, demonstrating that our combination of great products, market-leading financial services and unique e-commerce capabilities is hitting the right note.
“Peak trading came later than ever, highlighting customers’ growing trust in the online and mobile retail model and our ability to deliver.”
He added: “These results provide a solid foundation for us to build on as we accelerate our trajectory to become a world-class digital department store.
“At a product level, 2012 was undoubtedly the year of the tablet. In the run-up to Christmas, we sold one tablet every 40 seconds, connecting more than 91,000 households over the festive season.
“This rapid and continued rise in tablet adoption was also reflected in our sales channel mix. Mobile devices accounted for a record 28% of our total online sales, with tablets driving two-thirds of those.”
Mr Baldock said: “Post-Christmas, we expect sales to slow as we head towards Easter and to remain broadly flat for the year.
“With consumer confidence remaining subdued, retailers will have to fight even harder to win market share.
“To ensure we remain a winner, we will continue to invest in delivering a great digital shopping experience for our millions of customers, whenever, wherever and however they choose to shop with us.”