Monday 11 December 2017

Weak pound will see nearly half of shoppers cash in on UK sites

Sterling slumped in the wake of the Brexit vote in June. Photo: Reuters
Sterling slumped in the wake of the Brexit vote in June. Photo: Reuters
Michael Cogley

Michael Cogley

NEARLY half of Irish consumers are planning on taking advantage of weak sterling by buying from British online retailers, new research has shown.

Cyber Monday may be over, but online sales are set to continue in the run up to Christmas.

According to a study from Barclays Bank Ireland, 45pc of Irish shoppers will buy more goods from UK stores with sterling hovering at around 85 pence to the euro.

Sterling slumped in the wake of the Brexit vote in June.

However, despite the surge in popularity of online shopping, consumers still prefer to buy in-store than on the web, the report found.

Barclays Bank Ireland head of client coverage Helen Kelly said the country's retail sector is "in the midst of great transformative changes".

"Our research reveals that online shopping is strikingly strong and public expectations of retailers in relation to digital offerings are growing considerably, but we also found that physical stores remain extremely popular and will continue to play a very significant part of the shopping experience for Irish consumers," Ms Kelly said.

More than 60pc of people have used an internet-only retailer over the last 12 months, a number expected to grow further in 2017.

The value of Ireland's online spend has continued to grow too with almost half of consumers spending more than €500 on a single purchase online.

Cyber security remains a threat to online shoppers and online retailers and nearly half of people are worried about the security of their transactions online.

Services such as PayPal and Stripe have become increasingly popular for online transactions but fraudsters can still trick consumers into thinking they're on a legitimate website.

Despite not offering an exclusively-online experience, brick and mortar shops have seen the expectations of their own digital services heightened.

Shoppers are now twice as likely to contact retailers through social media as they were three years ago and 64pc of consumers now expect shops to respond to them within the hour.

The increased demands will put further pressure on stores, however Ms Kelly sees the digital transition as an excellent opportunity.

"It's clear from our analysis that shoppers now expect retailers to invest in new cutting-edge technologies which will enhance their shopping experiences through convenient and secure solutions," she said.

Barclays found a major desire amongst Irish shoppers for new technologies. Over 70pc said they are more likely to visit a retailer that uses virtual reality. A similar want for touch-screens, smart fitting rooms, and augmented reality was found amongst consumers.

The news comes after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the country's two newest shopping days of the year. Black Friday began as an American tradition that followed Thanksgiving, quickly becoming one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

The phenomenon has crossed the Atlantic to Ireland and has gained in stature every year. Irish retailers expected to net €100m in sales last Friday, 68pc higher than any normal Friday.

Shop-owners across the country reported increased footfall as the day becomes more widely-known. Shoppers are then wooed by online retailers on Cyber Monday.

Irish Independent

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