Online Shopping in the UK: What’s Going On?

Online Shopping in the UK: What’s Going On?

The Big Christmas Spend

Anyone with half an eye and quarter of a brain cell will have noticed the increase in frantic shoppers hustling down busy streets in the run up to Christmas. The pre-Christmas scramble for that last gift or purchase has become part and parcel of the December experience.

In fact, it is estimated that the UK population spent a whopping A�13.5 billion in the run up to Christmas 2011.

But how much of this bustling shopping experience is repeated in online browsing and sales during the pre-Christmas period? Is it safe to assume that those who march down the high street in search of a bargain are also crawling the web to get the best value deal?

Previous years have shown that online shopping is becoming more and more popular, with more and more people taking to their computers in the weeks approaching Christmas. And in 2011, it seems as though this trend has continued, with online shopping in the pre-festive period rising by an estimated 15%.

The biggest online shopping day in the run up to Christmas – dubbed “Cyber Monday” – saw the online retail giant sell over 3 million products – easily the best day that the company has ever had. Cyber Monday is the first Monday in December, and is popular with shoppers who are keen to get their items delivered well in advance of Christmas.

Those shoppers have good reason to act quickly, with reportedly over 26.24% of consumers receiving goods ordered online at least one day late (according to a survey carried out by Econsultancy for December 2010). In fact, 40% of respondents to the survey did not trust the retailer to deliver a last-minute order on time. Even more worrying for online stores, 28% of respondents said that they would not shop again with a retailer that failed to deliver on time.

Online retailers will only guarantee pre-Christmas delivery up to a certain date. Once this date has passed, they simply cannopt expect any more sales to come in this pre-Christmas period, because customers will not receive their purchases before the all-important big day.

But in actual fact, online retail does not slow down significantly once pre-Christmas delivery has become impossible. This year, Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) estimates that consumers will spend a massive A�186.4m online on Christmas Day. Why might this be?

The “January” Sale

Online retailers unable to deliver goods so close to Christmas simply shift into January sale mode, often starting their discount period before Christmas! In 2011, the likes of T-Mobile, Amazon, and Oxfam and launched their post-Xmas sale before the big day! In these tough economic times, many more shoppers are motivated by sales and discounts, which is why big online players launch their discount offers so soon.

Boxing day is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, with discounts a go-go on everything from sofas to electronics. Over 300m will be spent online!

Where do we go from here?

Most online sales will last into January, but the very best deals will have long been snapped up by the bargain-savvy shoppers that were glued to their laptops on Christmas Day.

Looking ahead, it is not difficult to predict that Online sales figures for Christmas purchases will continue to rise year on year. If online retailers can sort out their delivery, it is the perfect opportunity to generate decent sales volumes for the holiday season.