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Christmas Day and Boxing Day become top m-retail days of the year

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Christmas Day is rapidly emerging as one of the hottest online and mobile shopping days, with shoppers eager to use their new devices and redeem gift cards instantly on the big day itself.

IMRG, supported by SimilarWeb data, estimates that total spend on online retail sites on Christmas Day will reach £805m – a +10.1% increase on the £728m spent on the same day in 2015.

Boxing Day is also estimated to get close to being a billion-pound online shopping day, with total spend forecast to hit £984m – a 15% increase on Boxing Day 2015 when spend was estimated to be £856m. As a big online shopping day, this would still put Boxing Day behind Black Friday – where spend in 2016 was estimated to be £1.23bn.

This is of course notwithstanding any potential ban on shops being open on Boxing Day – following recent debates on this issue – which would most likely massively increase site traffic to online retail sites on that day.

The findings are backed up but more data from Criteo, which sees the percentage of mobile transactions hit the dizzying heights of 63% on Christmas Day – making it the busiest day of the entire year for mobile shopping.

Even when we think the shopping has ended and the stores have closed on Christmas Day, consumers all over the country are turning back to their phones to keep buying. But why is the UK such a nation of mobile shoppers when festive tradition dictates charades, sherry, the Queen’s speech and afternoon sofa naps as Christmas Day staples?

“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,” says Justin Opie, managing director at IMRG. “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.”

“One clear answer lies in our love of a great deal,” adds Gregory Gazagne, EVP EMEA, Criteo. “Traditionally, the Boxing Day sales offered the first opportunity to grab a post-Christmas bargain – but now that so much of our shopping is done online instead of inside bricks-and-mortar shops, sales kick off on Christmas Day and, increasingly, Christmas Eve.”

Last year, Britain’s biggest department store chain, John Lewis, saw a 10.7% year-on-year increase in clearance online orders on Christmas Day and a rise of 11% in traffic to its website. Most interestingly, 75% of the retailer’s clearance shopping traffic on Christmas Day came from mobile devices.

As the high street closes down for Christmas and people travel around the country seeing family and friends, the mobile phone becomes the device enabling them to take advantage of retailers’ festive offers – with just 28% of shoppers opting to buy on a desktop.

But who are those bargains being bought for? With the gift-buying frenzy well out of the way on Christmas Day, ‘tis the season for self-indulgent mobile shopping. Over half (52%) of all Christmas day mobile purchases are gifts from ‘me-to-me’, with shoppers taking the opportunity to bag themselves the presents that Father Christmas failed to deliver.

Top of the mobile shopper’s list on the 25th of December? Fashion and luxury items, typically subject to personal tastes (and therefore tricky to buy for others), which see an 11% spike in purchases on the big day.

“Consumers will be looking to grab bargains, avoid high street queues and buy themselves the gifts that they really wanted on 25th December – and most of them will be using their phones as their primary shopping device,” says Gazagne. “The message is clear: retailers hoping to make a splash with their Christmas Day offers this year MUST prioritise and optimise the mobile shopping experience, or risk losing out.”

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