UK consumer spending on mobile devices will rise from £9.7 billion to £53 billion a year by 2024, according to new research from Barclays.
The report showed that 42 percent of all retail sales would involve a mobile device in some way or another, making mobile the fastest growing retail segment. Mobile is expected to indirectly influence spending, resulting in a total footprint of £18.4 billion and £112 billion in 2024.
With 75 percent of consumers using mobile devices while at home and 84 percent while on the move, mobile internet provision was shown to be increasingly important. 47 percent cited signal problems as the main issue with mobile generally, while 40 percent highlighted connection problems even when they do have coverage.
Barclays found that 57 percent of consumers believe shops should offer free wi-fi, with 42 percent claiming they are always on the lookout for free wi-fi hotspots when out and about.
However, only 14 percent of retailers offer in-store wi-fi and only 7 percent plan to invest in it. Less than three percent of retailers believe that their business is at the cutting edge of mobile readiness and 70 percent said that they did not offer a website or mobile app.
Retailers’ reluctance to invest was shown to be driven by a lack of faith in mobile channels, believing that they do not generate new sales but have simply moved sales around.
Among other findings, the report showed that tablet owners were more likely to make a purchase using a tablet than smartphone owners were with their device, with figures of 43 percent and 19 percent respectively.
Richard Lowe, Managing Director and Head of Retail & Wholesale at Barclays, said: "Online retail was once seen as a threat to bricks and mortar stores. However, retailers are starting to discover that mobile technology doesn’t just enable them to compete in the same space as pure-play competitors but also provides an opportunity to increase sales through stores."
Lowe added: "Getting consumers into stores is challenging enough, but once they are there it is important that retailers can offer the technology driven services that consumers now demand. Wi-Fi is a basic commodity but its very presence and the services retailers can deliver through it clearly has an important part to play in high-street sales.
"Inevitably, practises such as ‘showrooming’ leads to some sales shifting online but, with almost three quarters of consumers using their mobile devices whilst out and about, ignoring this trend would be a missed opportunity.
Lowe concluded: "Ultimately, the easiest way to drive sales is to make the shopping process as simple as possible, and retailers must cater for the mobile consumer in order to remain relevant; engaging with them through a platform that they have become increasingly reliant on."
The survey polled 221 UK retailers and 1500 consumers.