UK Shoppers Are Expected To Spend £120.5BN Online in 2021 (£10BN More Than In 2020)

Following a HUGE surge in online spending in 2020 (thanks to Covid-19), UK shoppers are predicted to spend EVEN MORE money online this year (in 2021). New data suggests that up to £120.48bn could be spent on online purchases this year (in 2021), – up by £10BN on 2020’s spend.

The after Covid: Prospects for online retailing, physical stores, and how we pay report (as carried out by the Centre of Retail Research (CRR),’ – examined the impact of the pandemic on both online and offline spending. The report also looks ahead to 2021 and 2022, – to understand how online sales could be impacted, as the UK recuperates from Covid-19.

Despite a turbulent year, during 2020, online sales in the UK still saw a significant rise of 46.5%, with British consumers spending a whopping £110.6bn online (driven by physical stores being forced to shut their doors during lock-down(s). Even though physical stores re-opened in April 2021, a further increase of £10bn (9%) is still expected for online sales this year. 

UK consumers are buying more goods online than ever before, and by the end of 2021, online sales will make up almost a third (30.2%) of overall retail spending. This is 11% more than the share in 2019, pre-pandemic.

Looking ahead to 2022, total online spend is expected to level out, marginally increasing by 0.10% to £120.6bn. However, it is also estimated that the share of online sales as a proportion of total retail spend will fall to 28.1%, as people get back to shopping via a mix of online and offline.

In terms of the performance of physical outlets during the pandemic, total bricks and mortar sales fell by a colossal £35.3bn, compared to the period of 2019-2020 to 2020-2021. However, the report shows a steady recovery for the year ahead, with a forecasted increase of £3.9bn (1.4%) in physical sales in 2021. 

It is also expected that there will be a large disparity between food and non-food stores: non-food sales in physical stores are expected to rise by 10% (£12.5bn) by the end of 2021, reaching £137.1bn (as people return to the shops after long periods of closure). Food sales on the other hand, – may see a 5.4% decline from 2020 to the 2021 forecast as life returns to normal and people spend less time eating and drinking at home.

Considering the upward projections, nearly two thirds (60.5%) of consumers think they will spend less online than they did during lock-down(s). Almost a quarter (23%) say that they will spend just as much as they did during periods of lock-down(s), and 16.5% say that they will spend more online.

Anita Naik, a Lifestyle Editor at, said: “The pandemic has acted as a catalyst for many changes in the retail industry, especially the migration of more consumers to online shops and people relying more heavily on online retailers than in the past.”

“Despite a difficult economic period, it’s encouraging for the UK’s retail industry to see that shoppers are still keen to spend money in-store as well as online. Whilst physical stores have struggled over the past year, it’s great to see a real desire from consumers to get back to shopping in-store. That being said, it’s important for people to remember to purchase within their means and shop around for the best deals,” added Anita Naik.

Find out more here.