Mobile Telephone Retailers in the UK Industry Market Research Report Now Updated by IBISWorld

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Now that 92% of UK adults own a mobile phone, the Mobile Telephone Retailers industry is facing a challenging period ahead as the market is approaching saturation but the increased penetration of smartphones is helping to keep the industry growing modestly. For these reasons, industry research firm IBISWorld has updated its report on the Mobile Telephone Retailers industry.

IBISWorld industry market research
Smart thinking: Retailers call on smartphone sales to support themselves in a mature market

Mobile phones have become a must-have item of the modern world. Although solid growth in the number of mobile connections and continuing advances in product design and technology have fuelled consumer demand, these changes have not translated well into the retail market. Instead of record sales, operators in the Mobile Telephone Retailers industry have faced a difficult trading environment. According to IBISWorld industry analyst Christopher Edwards, “revenue is expected to decline at a compound annual rate of 1.5% over the five years through 2013-14 because mounting competition between operators has led to shrinking profit margins and declines in the average price of phones”. Trends in real personal disposable income and consumer sentiment have also played their part in limiting revenue.

Over 2013-14, revenue is projected to contract by 1.4% to £3.0 billion. Now that 92.0% of UK adults own a mobile phone, the market is approaching saturation, which has hindered demand for new phones. Consumer demand will be held back by the declines in disposable incomes brought by higher inflation and deteriorating consumer sentiment due to uncertainty in the eurozone. However, increased penetration in the smartphone market has provided some avenues for retailers to generate revenue. Industry sales are also likely to suffer from the continued shift to 24-month contracts, under which customers return for new products less frequently.

Despite these difficulties, the revenue of mobile telephone retailers is forecast to rise once more and expand at a modest rate over the five years through 2018-19. Nonetheless, after reasonable growth in 2014-15 and 2015-16, revenue is projected to stagnate over the remainder of the outlook period to 2018-19. Edwards adds, “in the short term, demand will be helped by the continuing popularity of smartphones as consumers change the way they use their mobile phones with growing demand for data instead of the traditional voice and text facilities suggesting that the use of 4G mobile connections will be a popular development”. Longer contracts will continue to decrease the speed at which customers can upgrade.

The UK Mobile Telephone Retailers industry has a high level of market concentration. The two main chains, Carphone Warehouse and Phones 4U, account for an estimated 75.3% of specialist phone retailer revenue. The major players have performed relatively well in the recession because they are both in a good position to alter their product mix, pricing promotions and channels to maximise revenue. Independent retailers have largely suffered as a result of the tougher retail trading conditions which has increased concentration in the industry.

The main mobile phone retailers have not had it all their own way in recent years as the specialist industry sits in the wider mobile market, which means they compete with the retail arms of the four main networks (Everything Everywhere, O2, Vodafone and Three), supermarkets and online-only retailers. Mobile phones are sold in a broad range of stores, especially with the rapid expansion of the Apple Retail Store, which has diluted the market for iPhone sales. In order to compete, mobile phone retailers have had to present their products in a similar way to the Apple Stores and allow consumers to interact with a greater range of their products. Firms have also expanded their range to include products like tablet computers.

For more information on the Mobile Telephone Retailers industry, including latest industry trends, statistics, analysis and market share information, purchase the full report from IBISWorld, the nation’s largest publisher of industry research.

IBISWorld industry Report Key Topics

Retailers in this industry specialise in selling mobile telephones. The industry does not include mobile telephone and paging services.

Industry Performance
Executive Summary
Key External Drivers
Current Performance
Industry Outlook
Industry Life Cycle
Products & Markets
Supply Chain
Products & Services
Major Markets
International Trade
Business Locations
Competitive Landscape
Market Share Concentration
Key Success Factors
Cost Structure Benchmarks
Barriers to Entry
Major Companies
Operating Conditions
Capital Intensity
Key Statistics
Industry Data
Annual Change
Key Ratios

About IBISWorld
Recognised as the nation’s most trusted independent source of industry and market research, IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique information and analysis on many UK industries. With an extensive online portfolio, valued for its depth and scope, the company equips clients with the insight necessary to make better business decisions. Headquartered in London, IBISWorld serves a range of business, professional service and government organisations through more than 10 locations worldwide. For more information, visit or call (020) 7222 9898.

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Danielle Goodman
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