Mega Monday saw online sales rise by more than 20% compared to the equivalent day last year. IMRG, the trade body for online retailers, now believes total sales for the December shopping season may bust its predictions of £6.4bn, thanks in part to the snowy weather.
Early figures from payments processing company Retail Decisions (ReD) showed that sales were 21% up on Monday December 6, compared to Monday December 7 last year.
The biggest shopping minute of the year, said ReD, was 13.15 – just seventeen minutes later than the company had previously predicted. During that minute, it said, £831,000 was spent online.
Carl Clump, chief executive of ReD, said: “Mega Monday has once again lived up to its name, smashing the record for online sales in just one minute. We are expecting today to be the busiest online shopping day ever, and by the end of the day we estimate that sales will have reached over £291 million. With total online sales for December expected to be up 22 per cent like-for-like on last year to £6.93 billion. Interestingly, the peak volume day for the US, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving saw online retail spend hit an estimated $4.2 billion, up 39% on last year”
Yesterday's busiest online shopping hour was between 1pm and 2pm, as people used their lunch breaks to search for Christmas gifts online.
Research previously carried out by IMRG had previously found that more than 60% of people were looking to start Christmas shopping early – and expected Mega Monday would be the busiest day in the run up to Christmas.
David Smith, managing director at IMRG, said: “Now that everyone has been paid we are seeing online Christmas shopping really burst into life for the year.
“Mondays tend to have the highest spend of the week as people go out to the shops over the weekend and try the products before making a decision.
“With over half of the population of the UK now shopping online, this Christmas looks to be a big one for retailers, possibly even exceeding our estimation of £6.4bn spent online in December.”
At the start of the day, online retailer Kitbag.com was predicting the biggest single day in its 10-year history, with orders worth more than £1m expected.
Ray Evans, managing director of Kitbag.com, which sells football merchandise and handles online sales for clubs including Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid, said: “The adverse weather conditions provide another good reason to shop online and, if this snow continues to fall, the sky is the limit for how far past the £1million mark we can go.”
John Lewis was another retailer expecting online record sales to be broken during the course of the day. The company had already seen its weekly online sales pass the £20m milestone for the first time. At £23.97million, sales in the week to December 4 saw a 47% increase on the same week last year. It said there was "no doubt" that the snowy weather had contributed to the lift. Last Wednesday, the worst day of the snow, saw johnlewis.com sales rise by 98% on the same day last year.
Maggie Porteous, head of selling operations, said: “The weather made last week a challenging one. It is a huge credit to all our partners that we have achieved such excellent sales despite the adverse conditions. There is no doubt that our multichannel operation, where customers can choose from a variety of ways to shop, has contributed significantly to our trading success.”
Our view: What a Christmas 2010 is proving to be. Snowy weather is certainly helping to persuade shoppers who can't get to the shops online instead. And it could well be that many will become confirmed online shoppers in the future as a result. That, of course, will depend on the success of online systems throughout the process, from ordering to delivery. And therein lies the potential peril for retailers - for even though customers can't get to the shops themselves, they will still expect deliveries to come through smoothly - and at the very least, in time for Christmas.