LONDON: Online outlets are set to capture a third of the UK retail market by 2022, a new forecast from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has shown.

The research firm's latest study, results of which were reported in the Financial Times, suggest that ecommerce firms will rapidly gain market share due to continued adoption of digital devices. Currently, the online segment accounts for 13% of overall sales.

In terms of platforms, mobile and social media will become increasingly important in shaping shoppers' purchase decisions, the report suggested. By contrast, brick-and-mortar stores were said to face the risk of being driven out of business if they did not adapt and optimise their online outlets.

The "showrooming" trend, where buyers check out goods in brick-and-mortar retailers before buying them online, was also forecast to continue in the years ahead.

Jon Copestake, the EIU's chief retail analyst, said: "Shops would operate as little more than showrooms but will continue to act as a channel for consumers to see, touch and try out goods – even if they make purchases using other means."

Elsewhere, the EIU projected that emerging markets would continue to take share in the global retail sector in the decade ahead.

By 2022, China's retail industry was forecast to be worth $8.3tr per year, followed by the US on $4.5tr and India on $4tr.

Commenting on the new report, Adam Steward, managing director at, suggested its results came as "no surprise".

He added: "While the high street is vital to the retail ecosystem and will always have a place, it is retailers' new approach to curating products online that will continue to fuel the growth in years ahead."

Data sourced from Financial Times/Rakuten/Fresh Business Thinking/Retail Digital; additional content by Warc staff