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Boxing Day was ‘UK’s biggest ever online shopping day’

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UK shoppers turned out in force for the Boxing Day sales – online, making it the country’s biggest ever day for internet retailing, Experian figures suggest.

According to Experian Hitwise’s analysis, consumers paid some 96m visits to UK etail sites on December 26 2011, spending a collective 13m hours online. That’s 19.5% more than on the same day last year, when 80.5m visits took place.

The big winners were multichannel retailers, the analysis showed. Almost twice as many visits were to multichannel brands than to pureplay online-only traders. However, the figures suggested, the gap between the two types of retailer is narrowing.

James Murray, marketing and research analyst at Experian Hitwise, said: “Boxing Day is traditionally the biggest retail day of the year, but this year it was massive with over 15 million more visits going to retail website than last year.

“A lot of this is down to smart multi-channel marketing by the big retailers using TV, radio and the web to drive transaction volumes. The convenience of the web combined with massive discounts, free postage and packing and next day delivery is incredibly tempting for people that want to avoid the hurly burly of high street sales.”

The analysis showed that gadgets were among the most searched for products on Boxing Day. The Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad 2 led the way. Apple had three products within the top 10 Boxing Day list including the iPad 2, iPod Touch and iPhone 4S. iPad 2 cases were the eighth most searched for item on Boxing Day.

The report came as Verdict Research and business analytics company SAS predicted 2012 would be a difficult year for retailers in the UK. The sector, they predicted, would grow by just 1.2% during the year. Food and grocery sales would grow faster, by 3.3%, as consumers stay at home to save money but sales outside this sector would shrink by 0.5%. Online shopping would grow, it predicted, within the food and grocery sector.

Maureen Hinton, practice lead, Verdict said “The first three months of 2012 will be the most difficult period for retailers as consumers cut back severely after the expensive Christmas period. Conditions will ease slightly with events such as Easter, the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics improving consumer sentiment, but overall confidence will still be low. Real improvement and growth are only likely from October onwards when, as long as the weather is seasonably cold, consumer will be driven to buy seasonal essentials before the end of the winter retail season in December and get back into the Christmas spirit.”

Alex Fovargue, retail specialist, SAS retail practice UK & Ireland, added: “Convenience and online shopping will be particular growth areas for grocery with this new stay-at-home mentality for example. Using this insight to drive marketing and business development should be at the heart of retail business strategy.”

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