Christmas online boom as UK shoppers spend £5.3bn

The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index reveals that British shoppers spent £5.3bn online in November. Sales were up by a quarter (25%) compared to October, and by 11% compared to 2008.

November saw typical seasonal growth in online sales, with retailers starting to experience the pre-Christmas surge from the first week in November.

Despite sales increasing ahead of the festive season, year-on-year growth has been the lowest for the month of November in the ten-year history of the Index. This is attributed to shoppers holding out for bargains, rather than reducing their online spend.

Christmas falling on a Friday in 2009 may indicate that shoppers are allowing shorter delivery windows than usual, a sign of increasing confidence in retailers ability to deliver on time. Typically the first week in December is the ‘peak’ week for Christmas shopping online and there is some evidence that this may well be the case again in 2009. Indeed, Carl Clump CEO of Retail Decisions (ReD), card fraud prevention and payment processing experts says: “We’re witnessing a 17% rise in online retail sales through December, which shows how important the internet has become as part of our daily lives. We are also seeing online shoppers spending their Christmas money with the larger retailers, because they have confidence in the longevity of reputable brands.”

Tina Spooner, Director of Information at IMRG said: “It is encouraging to see continued growth in the e-retail market which is clearly an indication of consumers’ confidence in the online channel. We would expect this positive growth in online festive sales to continue during December as retailers seize the opportunity of targeting their customers with promotions and offers in the final shopping days in the run up to Christmas.

“With many online retailers offering last order dates for pre-Christmas delivery as late as 23rd December, with a few promising same day delivery on Christmas Eve, even last minute festive shoppers can avoid the high street crowds this year.”

Mike Petevinos, head of consulting for retail at Capgemini UK, said: “Retailers and suppliers will be under extreme pressure to price competitively in the lead up to Christmas, and there will be a lot of volatility out there. This combined with the fact that shoppers seem to be making their Christmas gift purchases later than ever, means that retailers should carefully promote their products in December to avoid needlessly reducing margins. Consumer confidence in delivery seems not to have been dented.”

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