A growing number of consumers are using their mobile phones to carry out money transfers and online shopping, as sales of near-field communication (NFC) handsets continued to soar during the last 12 months.
According to new figures from Berg Insight, shipments of smartphones featuring the innovative technology reached 30 million globally in 2011, with analysts claiming NFC made a breakthrough because more vendors introduced devices to support the option.
The company – which delivers services to hundreds of clients in 61 counties on six continents – predicted NFC phone shipments will enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 87.8 per cent to reach 700 million units by 2016.
Using these gadgets, consumers can take advantage of hundreds of online shopping opportunities, while also carrying out payments through the simple touch of a button – making such devices increasingly popular among on-the-go individuals.
Andre Malm, senior analyst at Berg Insight, said: “Even though it will take some time before the stakeholders agree on business models for [NFC] payment networks, other use cases such as reading tags and easy pairing of devices may well be compelling enough for handset vendors to integrate NFC in mid-and-high-end devices today.”
A study carried out by Juniper Research last month predicted US$74 billion (£46.6 billion) will be spent using contactless transactions during the next three years, which spells tough times ahead for security companies looking to protect such items.
The analyst identified NFC as one of the principle drivers of the mobile commerce market, which also includes banking, payments for both digital and physical goods, ticketing, coupons and money transfers.
David Snow, senior analyst at Juniper Research, told Total Telecom: “Four of these segments – money transfer, physical goods, NFC and coupons – will more than treble in transaction value over the next three years.
“Whilst digital goods, banking and tickets will still, on average, double over the same period.” he added
As a result, the analytical company urged mobile commerce firms to address increasing concerns regarding the security of their products, even if they are unwarranted, to ensure consumers remain trusting towards their services.
Mr Snow went on to say the issue of safety has been addressed by the majority of providers in the marketplace, but more must be done to prevent the erosion of trust – similar to that endured with the early Google Wallet deployment – thus throwing away billions of pounds worth of business opportunities.
Berg Insight cites smartphone uptake as the main driver behind the success of NFC, while a number of other connectivity advancements in handsets, including GPS, Bluetooth and wireless capabilities have also spurred growth.
The attach rate of new phones incorporating the feature is expected to grow at an aggressive pace in the coming months after doing so by less than five per cent last year. However, this is much quicker than the percentage of new phones that include GPS and WLAN.
The constantly evolving world of online business and growing number of platforms that allow consumers to shop in cyberspace means it is increasingly difficult for such firms to stand out from the crowd with a new and inventive product.
As the high streets continue to suffer the effects of the country’s financial constraints, it seems the majority of people are turning to the internet for more choice and cheaper prices – but competition from larger companies could be holding some retailers back.
According to Jennifer Stenhouse, partner at consultancy service Mymediamanagement.com – which gives advice on marketing, public relations and social media from businesses – overcoming a shyness about engaging with customers is one of the most important things firms can do to enjoy more sales.
The expert acknowledged how personalising operations with the use of online video streaming can also provide a number of benefits for ecommerce companies.
“People prefer to buy from people, not a faceless organisation … Also, remember to ask your customers what they like – what they want.”
A growing number of companies are beginning to use this kind of feedback to improve their services, with some going the extra mile to design new items that meet the requirements of the target audience.
The latest figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index suggested online-only retailers may have done exactly that, as they enjoyed year-on-year growth of 13 per cent during February and managed to exceed multichannel companies – which are those defined as having a virtual and “bricks and mortar” presence” – which saw only an eight per cent rise in sales.
Representing the second consecutive month internet shopping platforms have outperformed those found on the high street and online, February was certainly a mixed bag for ecommerce businesses, as some flourished due to Valentine’s Day gift purchase and others suffered as a result of ongoing economic constraints.
The results suggest more ecommerce firms have adopted a similar outlook to that put forward by Ms Stenhouse, as consumer confidence in lesser-known companies continues to rise.
Although the current economic climate has tightened the purse strings of a high number of businesses, the expert urged them to offer free items – even if this comes in the simple format of tips and advice – to help them gain a trusting user base and encourage customer loyalty, as it is a “great way to build [a] reputation as a trusted supplier”.
“It is also important to keep the content fresh and to make sure you have a system in place to track your marketing performance, so that you can see what’s working and what’s not,” the expert added.
Last month, overall ecommerce figures experienced a year-on-year growth of just ten per cent – which is the lowest level recorded since January 2010 – as a total of £5.4 billion was spent on online purchases by UK consumers during the 29-day period, representing the equivalent to £106 per person.
According to IMRG, the gradual phasing out of heavy discounts and sales that were prominent during December and January were among the reasons for the slowdown.
Online shopping businesses experienced an upturn in activity during February, as consumers trawled through a high number of websites to find the ideal Valentine’s Day gift for their partner.
New figures from the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index released today (March 20th) revealed individuals in the UK spent a total of £5.4 billion – which is the equivalent of £106 per person – while shopping online last month.
Representing a ten per cent rise from the same period in 2011, the statistics were not enough to pull the ecommerce industry up from a difficult period, as the recorded ten per cent growth rate was half that presented last year.
While this highlights the slowest rate reported since January 2010, the figure comes off the back of a successful year during 2011 – while some companies struggled after the end of heavy discounts that were available to customers browsing online shops throughout December and January.
Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG – which has more than 20 years experience in the constantly-evolving internet shopping market – said: “Although growth in e-retail sales was lower than expected in February, it has to be considered in the context of the 20 per cent rise seen in February 2011, so double-digit growth is still a positive result.”
Sales in the ecommerce sector during February were significantly boosted by Valentine’s Day presents, as gift shipments rose by a substantial 26 per cent month-on-month and 22 per cent year-on-year.
Items including lingerie, as well as health and beauty products, also experienced jumps during February, indicating that British shoppers are happy to purchase treats for their loved ones to mark a special occasion despite the tough economic climes.
Clothing sales continued to perform at lower levels for the fourth month in a row, with nine per cent year-on-year growth in February, while internet alcohol retail rose from January by a significant 21 per cent.
An upturn in activity last month came as a result of high performance for online-only retailers recording growth of 13 per cent – which exceeding the financial results of high street retailers at just eight per cent, representing the second consecutive month such a trend has occurred.
Chris Webster, head of retail consulting and technology at Capgemini, noted it is “interesting” to see a surge in the success of internet only businesses performing better than multichannel options and suggested disappointing sales on the high street may be a reason for shortfalls among these firms.
“Online-only retailers rapid innovation and adoption of growth areas in e-retail, driven by mobile and click n collect, seem to have put them ahead once again, now is the time for the multi-channel retailers to respond,” he explained.
The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index also highlighted a rise in consumer confidence in ecommerce businesses, with many people who may have initially looked to trusted and familiar brands when shopping on the internet for the first time now becoming reassured in purchasing from other firms – which could spell a positive future for internet retail.
According to the council’s latest quarterly statistical report, Britons sent two-thirds more money through Faster Payments in the final three months of 2011 compared to the previous year.
A total of £76 billion was sent during this time, which is up significantly from the £46 billion sent during the final quarter of 2010.
The report also found that the number of transactions had increased year-on-year by 23 per cent, meaning that the scheme is gaining in popularity.
As of January 1st 2012 Faster Payments became the default system for phone, standing order and online payment processing in the UK, in line with current European Union legislation.
Some 99.9 per cent of UK sort codes can now send and receive these payments, with 81 per cent of all standing orders using the service by December 2011.
The rise in speed for online payments and standing orders has also meant a steady decline in the number of cheques cleared, as the payment method falls out of favour with the British public.
During 2011 12 per cent fewer cheques were cleared than the previous year; however 2.7 million cheques were still cleared every day in the last three months of 2011.
The Faster Payments scheme was first outlined during December and made it a legal requirement for electronic payments to reach the recipient’s account by the next business day at the latest.
It was designed to enable consumers to pay bills such as taxes, credit card payments and rent on a same-day basis for the first time, making online money transfers more efficient to use.
Payments across the European Union have one working day to reach the recipient’s account, but standing orders. One-off internet and phone banking payments in the UK need to exceed this requirement by being processed end-to-end within two hours through the speedier payments scheme.
Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council, commented on the Faster Payments initiative back in December and claimed that it was essential in cutting down on unnecessary payment processing waiting times.
Mr Kamellard went on to say that the scheme was “great news for consumers and businesses”, as they could take advantage of faster money transfers, meaning they have access to their money quicker and can pay for products and services with greater ease.
“More bills are going to be paid more quickly through Faster Payments and the change will mean more certainty if you have been sent money too,” he explained.
While the system has been up and running since the beginning of 2012 consumers and businesses can access further information from the PayYourWay website, which contains a factsheet full of frequently asked question and “advice and guides on every aspect of payments”.
This is helpful, as the chief executive later added that “not all payments we make will fall under this regulation and it is important to understand which will and which won’t”.
This month the hot topic in the world of online payments is mobile money transfers.
Businesses are embracing it and official organisations are developing it and trying to market it to the masses.
But despite its increased media coverage, Elaine Moore from Financial Times Money believes that it is nothing new.
Speaking on the Financial Times Money show podcast, she explained that “although this is the first time that Europe has had a mobile banking text messaging service that allows you to send money from one account to another, it has actually been available in Africa for ages”.
The service was introduced as an alternative for online banking, as more people were found to have smartphones than computers, therefore it made more sense to jump one step ahead.
Ms Moore described the move towards mobile phone banking as “the brave new world of banking”, which allows people to download apps that allow users to access account details, send and receive money and purchase items online.
She discussed the recent initiative launched by the Payments Council (PC) to encourage more people to use mobile banking services.
The organisation is in the process of building a central database, allowing customers to link their account details up to their mobile phone number.
All banks and building societies will be available on the system before the end of the year and the service has been billed as a safe, secure and simple way of making and receiving almost-instantaneous payments.
To use the service, passcode and similar security features will be required to authorise all payments and to enable banks to remotely disable accounts should a phone become lost or stolen.
Banks will also be free to customise their own offerings to their customers, making the initiative competitive for businesses and consumers.
Adrian Kamellard, chief executive of the Payments Council, discussed the new project and claimed that it will help organisations and banks to meet the “great demand for mobile payments”.
Mr Kamellard said: “Whether you want to pay a friend or your window cleaner, we are laying the foundation to enable mobile payments to become a mainstream option.”
The initiative will be an ongoing development and will change to meet the needs of key stakeholders and users, he explained.
“Our collaborative role is all about creating the conditions that mean innovations are available to the widest possible range of customers. We will keep a close eye on developments in the mobile payments market so that we can be sure that our project remains set to achieve its objectives,” the chief executive went on to add.
Speaking to the Press Association last week after the announcement of the industry-wide scheme, Richard Martin, head of innovation at the PC, described the mobile payments market as “rapidly developing” and containing “limitless” possibilities.
With regard to the new infrastructure, he made clear that the role of PC is to “set out minimum security requirements”, allowing organisations and customers to trust in the process of making and receiving payments through mobile devices.
Last year saw the monumental rise of ecommerce, as a business sideline to a fully independent platform capable of generating huge profits.
Despite the economic recession ecommerce has fought back, with Jeremiah Johnston, president of the Internet Commerce Association (ICA), claiming it is “growing at a very healthy rate”.
Mr Johnston explained that while online shopping and internet merchant account activity have been present for a number of years it is only more recently that these avenues have become accessible to mainstream consumer audiences.
“It’s really only in these last couple of years that the impact has extended beyond just those who have access to a computer because of work or have enough money to have them at home,” he said.
This has prompted the general population to move much of their activity on to the web, including banking, shopping and communication.
The ICA president explained that for retailers it is “still cheaper for you to do business online than it is to have a brick and mortar store”. This sentiment has been proven by recent figures from the British Retail Consortium, showing that the UK’s high streets are becoming increasingly filled with vacant shop premises, as the rise of online shopping and out of town retail centres threaten to continue to add to the decline of the British high street.
2011 was an extremely positive year for ecommerce, however 2012 could prove to be even more fruitful to direct merchant account owners willing to take advantage of the new domain extensions becoming available for purchase.
Thanks to new initiatives from the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers web domain endings using brand names could be available for the first time later this year.
Mr Johnston discussed how it will be “interesting to see what certain companies do to leverage that [domain endings] and leverage it with cross platform applications from the tablet and mobile devices all tied around one kind of global brand and online strategy”.
While new online directions and marketing tools could be important assets for businesses this year, other things companies need to recognise to generate long-term growth include being experimental, value-creative, useful and without boundaries.
These are the conclusions drawn by international brand consultancy Wolff Olins and according to its strategist Robert Jones, many of these attributes may be more easily achieved by small businesses.
Mr Jones commented that it was simpler for these smaller organisations to work without boundaries and to experiment, “because there’s less at stake – it’s relatively easier to be quick and try things and learn from them”.
This differs dramatically from larger organisations who may find it more difficult to begin working cross channel for example, or perhaps attract a new audience.
Profit should drive business, however he warned that those organisations working without a clear purpose are less likely to succeed and grow.
“If you’re not sure what your purpose is beyond profit, for the next four weeks work it out,” the brand strategist went on to add.
Twitter has taken a more considered approach to its monetisation than rivals Facebook and LinkedIn, and this has been no less true with the launch of its new brand pages feature.
Finally though, Twitter has unveiled its much anticipated enhanced profile pages, providing online retailers and other brands with another place to engage with customers and enhance their online strategy.
Even Google+, the fledgling newcomer to the social media party, was quicker off the mark than the microblogging site. The search engine’s social networking Brand Pages were launched in November last year.
It emerged that Twitter would be enhancing its profile page features at the start of this month, marking another step by owners towards commercialisation following the successful rollout of its Promoted Tweets in 2010.
The new brand pages are free to use and enable companies to improve functionality, bringing them in line with Facebook’s offering, which enables brands to feature additional content such as shopping opportunities and minigames.
Marketing director at digital marketing agency Alchemy Worx, Riaz Kanani, believes brands will leap at the opportunity to enhance their presence on the site.
“I fully expect all the brands to adopt it very, very quickly – just like they tried to work out ways to do the same thing with the old profiles really,” he explained.
However, Mr Kanani highlighted that many in the marketing industry had been expecting this for a while, but as with other features, Twitter has remained slow to roll out its enhancement projects.
“Twitter has been promising this for a while, along with their analytics – their analytics were supposed to launch a year ago and are still not here – and if you’re going on to Facebook and you’re trying to communicate via there, you’ve got good analytics [and] good understanding,” he added.
Initially, brands are expected to use this new platform for advertising, according to the Webtistic.co.uk managing director Dave Bird. In general, he believes that Twitter’s embrace of “new Facebook-like features” will only help to enhance the micro-blogging site’s competitiveness in the social media space.
Other recent enhancements, such as the launch of new crowd-sourced language translation services, also show Twitter is keen to improve its general accessibility, both to users and marketing leaders.
As with everything in this fast moving industry though, it will not be clear for some time just how well companies have responded to the brand pages. Or how effective they prove to be.
One problem with their late arrival compared to rivals is that companies have already made the decision to invest their precious marketing resources elsewhere.
Mr Kanani believes this could be a problem for convincing brands they should shift their priorities away from existing projects on the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.
“I’m not convinced it will attract companies away from other platforms,” he explained. “There are very few companies out there that can afford to have a profile on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and whatever.”
Of course, brands who recognise they have a strong audience on Twitter would be silly not to act. They may well have been holding out for just this kind of opportunity rather than opting to establish a base on another social media site.
“Whilst it’ll be better for those who’ve got their audience on Twitter, I cant see them attracting new brands because of it,” added Mr Kanani.
Groupon shocks with fourth quarter net loss
Groupon has surprised investors and media commentators by announcing a fourth quarter net loss.
The discount subscription service has this week revealed its fourth quarter 2011 financial results, which show that overall revenue was up 194 per cent year-on-year and operating income was $150 million (£94.5 million), up from a $333.6 million (£211.7 million) loss during the corresponding period of 2010.
However, despite some positive statistics, the internet merchant account has confounded expectations by chalking up a net loss of $42.7 million (£26.9 million) in the final three months of 2011.
The loss has been blamed on ambitious international expansion and the creation of a new overseas headquarters in Switzerland.
US games market ‘doubled since 2008′
The US games market has doubled since 2008, according to a new report from Parks Associates.
Figures show that there are now 135 million Americans playing games for at least an hour a month, compared to 56 million four years ago.
Gamers were found to have been attracted by free-to-play games, which attract online payments through in-game purchases, rather than through one-off fees.
The increased ownership of tablet devices was also shown to have contributed significantly to the rapid rise in video game playing.
Amazon ‘considers expanding subscription-based videos’
Amazon could be about to expand its subscription-based video content, allowing it to join the ranks of Netflix and Hulu, which have popularised on-demand video streaming.
The ecommerce retailer currently offers a member-based instant video plan, however Reuters reports that a potential partnership with Viacom could lead to a huge web video deal.
Viacom owns several major TV networks, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1, MTV and an extensive collection of films from over 160 TV networks worldwide.
The collaboration has yet to be confirmed, however it would allow Amazon to compete in this rapidly growing industry.
Safer Internet Day hits Europe
Europe welcomed the annual Safer Internet Day on Tuesday February 7th.
The day was marked by more than 100 events in 30 European countries and was designed to promote safer internet access for children and young people.
Tuesday’s event is part of the Digital Agenda for Europe, which works with leading companies and children’s organisation to protect children and young people from unsuitable content.
Issues discussed on the day included parental control, content classification and age restrictions.
Zeus malware ‘threatening to intercept online banking‘
Leading IT security specialists have discussed the growing threat of Zeus malware and the threat it poses to online money transfer.
Speaking on the BBC Click programme, Phil Lieberman, chief executive officer of Lieberman Software, explained: “You think you are talking to the bank but you are really talking to Zeus, and Zeus is talking to your bank instead.”
He claimed that Zeus was acting like a middle man in online money transfers, depositing money gained from intercepting the transaction process.
Online shopping causing demise of UK high street
The rising popularity of online shopping is contributing to the continuing demise of the UK high street.
This is the conclusion of a report by the Local Data Company (LDC), which claimed that the number of empty shops on British high streets will continue to rise during 2012.
It argues that this is due to rising unemployment, weak consumer confidence and ultimately a huge growth in online shopping.
Director of LDC Matthew Hopkinson confirmed that the rise in shopping online was largely to blame.
“Technology is driving consumer behaviour to a world of engagement, entertainment and the ability to shop where, how and when we like,” he explained.
Online shopping growing in US
Online shopping is continuing to grow in the US, according to USA Today.
The newspaper claims that the rising number of multichannel internet merchant accounts was helping to contribute to rising consumer engagement and take-up of online shopping platforms.
However, it argued that it still only accounted for less than ten per cent of actual retail sales, suggesting that as consumers become more informed about buying online they are also becoming choosier when it comes to parting with their cash.
One way high street retailers in the states are integrating the online experience is through tablet devices in-store, it went on to describe.
Are tablets improving UK online sales?
Tablet users are more likely to buy products online via their device than smartphone users, according to Nielsen.
In a survey conducted by the market research firm, ten per cent of tablet users revealed that they had shopped online with their device, compared to seven per cent of smartphone users.
Tablet users were also found to respond better to advertisements, finding them more enticing and memorable than users of smartphones, partly due to their larger screens.
European managing director of telecoms practice at Nielsen, Dave Gosen told Total Telecom that searching for product information and using online billing solutions “are suited to a portable large-screened device”.
Mobile spending ‘too convenient to pass up’
Mobile shopping options appear to be too convenient to miss for US consumers looking to buy online.
Market research firm comScore has shown that online shopping has risen by 14 per cent year-on-year between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the final three months of last year.
“Price and convenience continue to be the critical value drivers for ecommerce, and unless those conditions change we can expect to see more channel-shifting to online in 2012,” claimed chairman Gian Fulgoni.
A multichannel approach is becoming the norm for many retailers, a move which Mr Fulgoni believes will become common during 2012.
Internet scams increase in Singapore
Internet scams have increased in Singapore due to the rapid growth in online shopping and the use of online payment processing, AFP reports.
This is despite overall crime rate falling to a 20-year low, according to police.
Online scams were found to have mainly occurred where people made purchases as a direct response to advertisements offering discounts on hotel accommodation, car rentals or holidays.
Cybercriminals are targeting a wider range of victims, according to a new report.
To maximise the effectiveness of criminal cyber attacks, hackers are concentrating on a wide range of people and organisations, the VIPRE Report for January 2012 from GFI Software claims.
This includes online gamers, internet merchant account holders of varying sizes and and a number of government organisations.
“Anyone who goes on the internet is a potential target for cybercriminals looking to infect systems and scam users,” claims Chris Boyd, senior threat researcher at the security analysts firm.
Mr Boyd explained that malware writers and phishers do not discriminate between internet users and “purposefully cast a wide net when picking their methods of attack in order to reach as many targets as possible.
“Whether you are a young gamer, a successful business owner or a government employee, you need to be wary when clicking on links that appear to pertain to your interests, especially when asked to submit personal information online,” he went on to warn.
The report cites examples of US hacks, including the installation of rootkits on the systems of gamers looking to illegally download Pro Evolution Soccer 2012.
It also discussed the rising number of phishing emails posing as official notices from the Better Business Bureau, which sought to capture online payment processing details from unsuspecting victims.
Meanwhile the document warned that the shutdown of popular file hosting websites such as Megaupload could spark an unprecedented backlash from the cyber hacking community.
“Cybercrime campaigns are designed to cripple systems and steal personal information, but first they have to reach the victim,” warned the threat researcher.
Mr Boyd said: “Once they know the profile of the group they want to attack they will do anything they can to increase their chances of success and fool users into playing along.”
As well as discussing who likely hacking victims could be, the top ten threat detections for January were outlined, with Trojan viruses topping the list.
While cyber criminals may be coming up with ever more inventive ways to obtain sensitive data, the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) has recently asked for feedback on how the payment processing industry can better protect financial and personal information.
The PCI SSC has given all stakeholders until Friday March 9th to provide input on the next version of the PCI Hardware Security Module (HSM) security requirements.
This concerns securing all cardholder data in point-of-sale environments and could affect more than 630 of the world’s leading direct merchant account holders, financial institutions and technology providers.
HSMs are non-cardholder facing devices which are used in conjunction with the protection of sensitive information, which includes PINs and cryptographic keys which hold the power to protect or authenticate that information.
All feedback received by the PCI SSC will be reviewed and considered in the final and revised requirements which will be published in the spring for all interested parties.
“We rely heavily on active participation by our members. This industry feedback and expertise is critical to our mission and our business,” commented PCI SSC general manager Bob Russo.
The ongoing success of online shopping sites is contributing to a dramatic rise in the number of vacant shops in the UK, according to a new report.
Forecasts from the Local Data Company (LDC) show that the number of empty shops on British high streets will rise during the course of 2012, due to a combination of factors.
These are said to be growing online sales, rising unemployment and weak consumer confidence in the nation’s retail sector.
While vacancy rates across the country remained stable in 2011 at 14.3 per cent of available retail space, stark regional differences were highlighted.
St Albans was shown to have the lowest vacancy rate out of all the large urban centres, at 8.2 per cent, while Stockport had the highest levels at 30 per cent.
Matthew Hopkinson, director of the LDC, said: “The stable top line rate of 2011 hides the significant breadth in town centre vacancy rates up and down the country and the structural issues that are at stake.”
The report claimed that a large proportion of high street retail sales were poached by out-of-town shopping centres, with year-on-year figures rising by 3.4 per cent.
However, the main cause for the ultimate decline in high street revenues was cited as online shopping.
LDC quotes figures from retail consultancy Verdict, showing online sales doubling to reach more than ten per cent of all retail sales between the year 2000 and 2011.
Mr Hopkinson commented on the rising popularity of internet merchant accounts in comparison to traditional store-based retailers.
“Technology is driving consumer behaviour to a world of engagement, entertainment and the ability to shop where, how and when we like,” he said, before recommending that “town centres need to adapt to this changing environment if they are to survive and thrive”.
With the high number of empty shops on the UK’s main shopping streets some commentators have argued that this decline is irreversible and alternative uses for the space should be considered.
The British Property Federation has even recommended turning vacant shops into new homes, however this could be a last resort option.
British retailers are still attempting to profit from their flagship and city centre stores, however an increasingly multi-channel approach is being adopted by many in order to improve consumer engagement and reach a wider market.
Fashion and homeware retailer Next reported a group sales increase of 3.1 per cent between August 1st and Christmas Eve 2011, however store sales were revealed to have fallen by 2.7 per cent.
This represents the success of their online sales platform, which helped to counteract a poor performance on the high street.
Many well-known retailers that focused their efforts on the UK high street went into administration during 2011, including companies such as Barratts, Focus DIY, Lombok, Best Buy and Habitat.
Stephen Robertson, director general of the British Retail Consortium, has commented on the report, and claims real damage has already been done to the UK’s high streets and recommended the introduction of focused long-term plans.
“The scale of retail failures since Christmas and number of shops standing empty show the effects of high costs and weak demand on retail businesses,” Mr Robertson went on to warn.