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The Retail Bulletin, the complete retail news resource

Online sales up by a quarter this Christmas as more people surf for bargains

Friday January 22nd 2010

Online retailers put up an aggressive fight against the recession over the Christmas period according to the latest reports.

Data provided by Retail Decisions for IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) reveals that Christmas Day sales are up 29% on last year to £132m with Boxing Day drawing the biggest crowd with sales of £281m.
 
These results are supported by latest consumer insight research from leading online research specialist, eDigitalResearch, which found 75 per cent of respondents clicking online on Christmas Day or Boxing Day with 15 per cent placing an order online on Christmas Day and 23 per cent doing so on Boxing Day.

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David Smith, Director of Operations at IMRG said: “It appears that this Christmas we saw internet activity becoming part of most people’s routine, whether e-mailing friends, catching up on social network sites or surfing for bargains. Online retailers were able to benefit from this changing consumer behaviour by achieving record sales volumes with many sales and offers starting on Christmas Eve”.

Nor did the threat of adverse weather conditions and Royal Mail strike action deter people from placing orders in the last few weeks before Christmas, with the majority of deliveries arriving on-time. As a result of this, 41.3% of people predict to spend more online next Christmas due to a positive online experience.

Commenting on the survey findings, Chris Russell, Director at eDigitalResearch, said: “What differentiated this year from last was the fact that retailers offered much later order dates for Christmas deliveries. While last year many multi-channel retailers were still promoting click and collect, this year there was a significant increase in the number of sites that were using courier services to ensure that consumers could still place an order on 23rd December for delivery on Christmas Eve.”

Compounding this was the fact that sales were started by the pure players as soon as the last delivery day deadlines were reached. A fact that, according to Chris Russell, was not lost on the consumer: “People are now increasingly aware when the sales will be starting and so they use the internet to their advantage, identifying and searching out a bargain. Our research shows that 62 per cent of respondents were online on Christmas and Boxing Day searching for bargains. What’s really encouraging is the fact that Christmas 2010 looks like it will be even more prosperous for the online retailer.”

Carl Clump, CEO of Retail Decisions suggests that more people are lured online to bag the best bargains: "Online and high street retailers used every trick in the book as they competed for their share of the shoppers’ budgets. With slashed prices and ever-earlier sales promotions, UK consumers no longer need to wait for the formalities of Christmas to be over before seeking out the best bargains."

He continues: “According to our live estimates, consumers logged on early on the Boxing day to pick up the best bargains with sales up an estimated 94% by midday. However, sales slowed later in the day. Online stores like Comet, B&Q and John Lewis experienced early spending as internet sales were posted on Christmas Eve. In advance of the Boxing Day sales on the high street, consumers were lured online by special deals on the most popular products and the last opportunity to take advantage of VAT at 15%. On Christmas Eve, a day that’s traditionally quiet online, sales rose by an estimated 68% to £181 million."