Despite the continuing growth of online retail, there are still a surprising number of well-known high street retailers that continue to avoid e-commerce.

As well as missing out on a large and growing market - UK e-commerce sales rose by over 50% last year - these firms are giving their rivals a competitive advantage, while shooting themselves in the foot.

So let's take a look at 10 UK retailers that do not currently sell online. Where possible, we have included offline sales figures and a loose calculation on what they're missing out on.

Most estimates say that online accounts for between 7% and 15% of all sales, so we have calculated this at 10%.

  • Jigsaw
    The fashion retailer does display its clothes online, but customers can only order by telephone. Bizarre.

    2005 sales: £88m. Potential online sales: £8.8m.

  • H&M
    The Swedish retailer has been selling its clothes online in Sweden since 1998, and recently expanded to the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. But it doesn't do this yet in the UK or US.
  • Zara
    Spanish retail group Inditex, the company behind Zara, intends to sell its home products online, but has no plans as yet to sell its clothing range.

    2007 sales (worldwide): £4.9bn. Potential online sales: £490m

  • Clarks
    The company has a Flash site that displays its footwear range, but you can't buy any online, though a Google search reveals that you can buy Clarks' shoes from plenty of other sites.

    2005/2006 sales: £921m. Potential online sales: £92m

  • Habitat
    The company doesn't sell its homeware range online, but has been working on an e-commerce offering.

    2004 sales: £244.8m. Potential online sales: £24m

  • Claire's
    The company has 450 stores in the UK, but no plans to sell online as yet. 

    2006 non-US sales: £204m. Potential online sales: £20m

  • Selfridges
    Selfridges does sell hampers and a small range of perfume online, but that's it.

    2006 sales: £597m. Potential online sales: £59.7m

  • Fenwicks
    Fenwicks has eight department stores in the UK, but has no plans to launch an e-commerce site at the moment.
  • Morrisons
    Despite the success online of rival supermarkets Tesco and Sainsburys, Morrisons has yet to move into e-commerce.

    2007 sales: £13.5bn. Potential online sales: £1.35bn

  • Somerfield
    The supermarket launched an online shopping service back in 1998,, but closed it in 2000 due to lack of demand.

    2007 sales: £4.4bn. Potential online sales: £440m

It is difficult to think of any good reasons why these companies choose not to sell online, as the benefits in increased sales seem obvious. 

If you know of any other major retailers who are yet to sell online, let us know... 

Related research:
E-commerce Platforms Buyer's Guide 2007

Related stories:
E-commerce sales grew by over 50% last year - IMRG
High street retailers make gains online

Graham Charlton

Published 1 February, 2008 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is editor in chief at SaleCycle, and former editor at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin.

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Comments (3)


Ayse Durmush

I'd suggest fear of market cannibalisation. Manufacturers have issues selling online as it can potentially upset channel partners. Retailers and manufacturers have to strike a balance between having the online presence and offering consumers the option to purchase direct and undercutting their own supply chains.

over 10 years ago

Sean Clark

Sean Clark, Head of Web Operations at Adnams Plc

The foriegn owned companies I can understand, Ikea is a good example of a foriegn owned retailer that was slow to capitalise on the UK online market. The 2 supermakets do have a problem with coverage, the eary days of Tesco online was very frustrating for those outside of a delivery area. The infrastructure required to implement a competitve offering forthese brands would be quite a challenge to create.

Clark's is a starnge one but you don't go in Clark's and just try on a pair of shoes. The whole ethos with this brand is a shoe to fit "your" foot and would be a challenge to extend this to an online environment. Although Amazon's is a good example of how it can be done well.

For me the highlight here is Claire's, I have 2 daughters who love this shop and not being online is a big oversight in my opinion. Easy to ship products, great retail coverage, decent margins, novelty items, gift opportunities, target market actively online!

over 10 years ago

Nick Brown

Nick Brown, Director at inspire:

I think this is the tip of the iceberg really. I can't understand any retailer whatever their size not grasping at the opportunities that are online. Don't get me wrong it's not the goose that lays the golden egg but even online retailers with incredibly poor websites are doing pretty well. For me Morrison's is the stand out here, Asda are going to launch Asda Direct this summer with a view to increasing their online sales to £1bn by 2011. I'm not sure how those companies without a decent online strategy and offer can look their investors in the eye.

over 10 years ago

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