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A third of shoppers buy more online in winter: study

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Retailers would do well to concentrate their efforts on selling online in January and February, a new study suggests, since, it finds, the residents of colder countries are more likely to shop over the internet in the winter.

One Hour Translation, working with Google Consumer Surveys, questioned 800 people in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Japan in recent weeks and found that around the world, a significant number of shoppers turn to ecommerce when the thermometer drops.

The study found that while, on average 46% of respondents (42% in the UK) buy steadily online throughout the year, 34% (43% in the UK) said they bought more in the winter than at other times of the year. In Australia, where July and August are the chilly months, 34% said they bought more online during their winter. The effect was more marked in colder countries – 44% of Canadians bought more online in the winter, and less marked in warmer ones – 23% of Italians and 27% of Japanese respondents said they were more likely to use ecommerce in the winter.

Some 15% of all respondents said they did not buy more online in winter (13% in the UK) while 5% (UK 2%) did not buy online at all.

But it seems the internet effect is patchy over the northern hemisphere winter. An average of 80% said the Christmas shopping period, peaking in November and December, was not necessarily the best time to buy online, and they preferred to wait for New Year sales. About a third said they found more attractive end-of-season sale bargains straight after Christmas, while 46% consistently looked for sales during the year.

“The results of our new survey are extremely clear: companies selling online are well advised to concentrate their efforts in increasing online sales in the first quarter of the year, immediately after the Christmas period,” said Ofer Shoshan, co-founder and chief executive of One Hour Translation. “Furthermore, organizations which concentrate their internet sales efforts in January and February will be rewarded with numerous opportunities resulting from the preference of huge number of consumers to buy online at that time of year."

He also cited a One Hour Translation study from the fourth quarter of 2014 that showed consumers generally preferred to buy online in their own language, with 83% of Italians showing that preference, along with 80% of Germans, 90% of Japanese people, 65% of Dutch people, and 74% of French-speaking Canadians.

Our view: This study bears out what many might well have assumed. We've seen in years gone by that more people shop online when the weather worsens in the UK. It's interesting to see, however, how far that tendency extends around the world, while regional differences that UK exporters will want to bear in mind are firmly flagged up here.
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