LONDON: Mobile commerce sales are due to grow rapidly in the UK during the next five years, surpassing £2.5bn by 2016, according to a new forecast.

PayPal, the digital payments service, commissioned Forrester, the research firm, to survey 550 mobile shoppers in the UK, and assess the potential size of the market going forward.

It was estimated that total mcommerce revenues should rise from £226m in 2010 to a projected £438m in 2011, and £715m in 2012. Figures are then set to hit £2bn in 2015 and £2.6bn in 2016.

The share of online retail sales attributable to mobile phones should thus improve from 1.5% in 2011 to 5.9% in 2016, the analysis suggested.

More specifically, Forrester stated the number of people participating in this activity could increase from 2m in 2010 to 4m in 2011 and 14m by 2016.

This would equate to 26% of wireless subscribers, and 42% of mobile internet users, engaging in mcommerce by the latter date, measured against scores of 4% and 13% respectively last year.

At present, the average mobile shopper spends £1,600 a year online - doubling the UK norm - and £100 through their phone.

Some 22% of this audience make acquisition from a handset on a monthly basis, with 21% doing so quarterly, and 15% once every six months.

While 66% of the sample anticipated making the same number of purchases in the future, an additional 15% expected to cut back and 10% were likely to stop doing so altogether, matching the amount foreseeing an increase.

Meanwhile, 38% of contributors had paid for an app in the last three months, standing at 28% for music downloads, 17% for ringbacks, 14% for video games and 11% for apparel.

At the other end of the spectrum, large domestic appliances logged just 1%, climbing to 3% for household goods, 4% for consumer electronics and 6% for groceries.

Currently, 45% of mobile shoppers log on to the internet from their phone "several times a day", rising to 72% of 16-24 year olds, and 25% use an iPhone.

A 36% proportion of the survey panel had accessed a retailer or network provider's website through the mobile net, 29% had used an ecommerce app, and 8% had bought something via text.

Data sourced from Forrester; additional content by Warc staff