Last month the Centre for Retail Research grabbed headlines with their report that in 2014 UK consumers are expected to spend an unprecedented £45 billion shopping online. The news that the UK's consumers like to shop online won't come as a surprise to many, but this statistic really should be acknowledged as a big one - particularly given that the report also indicates that the UK will account for a third of Europe's online spending.
These observations of UK e-commerce are in fact all the more interesting given that one of the hot topics going into 2014 was the news that more than one third of online sales are now reported to be made via mobile device.
Many commentators in both recruitment and technology fields predicted at the beginning of 2014 that the demand for professionals with skills in e-commerce and retail focused technology disciplines; so if the statistics offered by the Centre for Retail Research are anything to go by, then this would appear to be the case as we come to the end of the year's first quarter.
In recent months we have seen e-commerce take priority for a number of retail organisations - notable examples include Marks & Spencer announcing their website relaunch last month as well as John Lewis' much publicised omni-channel improvements. The increase in recruitment from the retail sector for candidates with e-commerce skills is something that has been well documented and is something that has been experienced firsthand at InterQuest, where we have assisted a diverse range of retail clients on an increasingly diverse range of e-commerce and digital focused recruitment projects.
While the increase in the UK's e-commerce staffing requirements can be seen as a clear effect of the statistics like those in the CRR's report, the other point to take away from these is what they suggest about UK consumer behaviour in general in 2014. The figures can be read with some optimism from a retail point of view - they indicated a 15.8% increase in last year's online spending - as well as 2.4% growth in bricks and mortar high street spending. While it would be difficult to say whether the UK consumer's spending both online and in the high street will be this high in the long term - it is sure to be welcomed as positive news by the retail sector as a whole, which has had a well documented difficult few years.
The struggle between high street shopping and online shopping has also been well documented for some time, and it would likewise be difficult to offer any definitive answer on what the end result of this struggle might be. One thing that has become clear is that the retail sector is certainly diversifying in its employment opportunities and with consumer demand high, the sector is sure to adapt its sales platforms in response.