A total of 3.8 million people bought goods online on Christmas Day 2008, spending a total of £102 million.
Online shopping at Christmas was not immune from the economic downturn, concludes IMRG, eDigital Research and Secure Trading (who put together the figures), and online retailers had very mixed experiences, but in general trade was larger, later and longer than in 2007.
The total spend of £102 million on Christmas Day is up 21% from last year and works out as an average of £26.80 per shopper, compared with £19.09 per shopper last year.
"Though the number of people shopping on Christmas Day was 14% lower than in 2007, the volume of transactions was 26% higher, and the value rose by 21%, indicating that serious bargain hunting was the order of the day,” explained James Roper, IMRG's CEO.
Traffic to retail websites during the run-up to Christmas 2008 was higher than the 2007 level, but transaction volumes rose even more sharply — up 9% in November and 28% in December, according to Secure Trading. Ticket values were down, however, indicating that more people were buying lower value items.
eDigitalResearch, meanwhile, highlights the fact that aggressive sale tactics from online retailers in the run up to Christmas saw people monitoring sites for the best deals, with traffic up from 2007 on December 22, 23 and 24. However, traffic leapt by almost 100% between Christmas Day and Boxing Day, which was the busiest single day for online retailers in 2008.
"The traffic online during Christmas was heavily affected by the sales starting early this year," commented eDigitalResearch's Chris Russell. "We noticed that most traditional retailers commenced online sales when stores closed on Christmas Eve, with pure play retailers starting after last delivery day deadlines were reached. This means that the increased purchases on Christmas Day and the huge surge in traffic on Boxing Day could have been as a result of this."
SecureTrading's Jon Prideaux says that "More people are spending but they're spending less and they hung on later before getting out their cards. Normally, November is our biggest month; however this year Christmas sales came, but later: in 2007 there was a 2% drop from November to December as people finished their shopping in good time. This year we saw a 15% rise. In the week of Christmas itself, people went crazy with an increase of 91% in the number of transactions processed — values were up by three quarters. But the recession is still a factor with transaction values steadily dropping throughout the year. The average purchase size reduced in comparison to the previous year: from an average spend of £92 (2007: £94) in August, we hit a low of £77 (2007: £83) in December.”
Chris Russell added that "The underlying message that runs through these results is continuing consumer confidence in the online channel which has remained robust throughout the festive period. We expect to see this continue with the online retail channel at the forefront of aggressive sales activity during 2009. No doubt the consumer will continue to respond to these aggressive tactics and search out the bargains."