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Black Friday kicked off a distinctly mobile Christmas, research shows

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This Christmas has been the first properly mobile one, driven by a mobile push that started with Black Friday and continued right up until the January sales.

According to research by Salmon, since Black Friday, devices have led the way in online retail traffic, with 53% coming through mobile alone and 68% coming through mobile and tablets combined. Overall, there has been a 26% rise in average mobile traffic since 2015.

This mirrors the tipping point of mobile as seen during this year’s Black Friday period where 68% of traffic and 51.2% of orders were made on mobile and tablets – the first year where mobile overtook desktop in orders. Last year, the Christmas period saw a 12% growth on 2014 in online orders overall.

Salmon’s research also shows that more than half (53%) say the biggest improvement technology has brought to their shopping experience is that it has made the shopping process “easier and more convenient”, with over eight million people (16% the UK population) using digital tech every day to shop. Half of those surveyed (49%) say technology – incorporating online, mobile and click & collect – has “made the shopping process faster”, as consumers turn to convenience to get their goods either at home or on-the-go. A further 41% say they are now able to shop from stores they can’t visit in person.

Neil Stewart, CEO of Salmon, explains: “As consumers turn more towards digital solutions to satiate their shopping needs and wants, we fully expect online orders – including mobile – to continue to increase over the festive period. We predicted correctly that this would be the first year where mobile overtook desktop during the ‘Black Fiveday’ period and we’ve seen the same thing happening at Christmas this year. International orders are even expected to rise just like during the Black Friday period, when consumers took advantage of the weak pound.”

In fact, Christmas day is becoming a highlight of the retail year, with many shoppers using their new devices – and the encroaching post-dinner boredom – to look for bargains.

IMRG [IRDX VIMR] has previously said that it expects Christmas Day sales to reach £805m, 10.1% up on the £7287m spent on the same day last year. Its figures, supported by data from SimilarWeb [IRDX VSWB], showed that total spending would reach £984m, 15% up on Boxing Day 2015.

Justin Opie, managing director, IMRG, said: “It might not seem an obvious fixture in the retail calendar, but Christmas Day has actually become a fairly significant online shopping day in the UK. Whereas gifts were traditionally physical items, many people now receive gift cards which they can instantly redeem on the day to download the kinds of items that have become highly virtual – games, music, in-play app upgrades etc. Many retailers will also have set their post-Christmas sales campaigns live on their sites by then, which are very easy to browse using the kinds of devices many people have access to – smartphones, tablets etc – during a quiet digestive moment post-Christmas dinner perhaps.”

Salmon’s Stewart adds: ““What’s clear for UK shoppers, though, is that they crave convenience and efficiency above all else. For Christmas, shopping online and through mobile especially is a time-saver and means that families can spend more time with each other instead of navigating the busy high street. Retailers must ensure they have strong back-end systems and a fluid supply chain in the run-up to the festive period to cope with the demanding holiday period.”

Nearly 1 in 5 men (18%) use online shopping in some form or another every day compared to 16% of women. However, women say shopping digitally allows them to find better bargains, with 37% being able to find more cost efficient and better deals, compared to 32% of men.

As consumers embrace the advantages of digital shopping trolleys, the majority of consumers are now thinking ahead of the curve in terms of how they want to order their goods. 57% of UK consumers said they will be ready for Programmatic Commerce in the next two years. This idea centres on smart, connected devices making automatic purchases, such as fridges ordering milk or juice when sensors show they’re running low.”

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