Online sales analysis from a number of trackers all agree that online shopping saw a step change this year as consumers continued to shop online for gifts right up to Christmas Eve and then hardly paused for Christmas lunch to take advantage of online clearance sales.
According to Metapack's eCommerce 100 tracker, which analyses a cross section of one hundred of the company's retail customers, 31% of eCommerce companies were still dispatching goods on Christmas Eve, despite cutoff delivery dates for Christmas Day having been passed.
29 December, the first working day after Christmas, was the fifth highest festive season shopping day with regards to sales made and parcels dispatched, behind only the preceding four Mondays, says Metapack.
"Online shopping has clearly established itself as part of the Christmas routine," explains Patrick Wall, CEO of MetaPack. "Shoppers are proving that they trust online delivery by placing their orders closer and closer to Christmas week. Gradually, shopping online feels as safe as going to the shops themselves, just more choice and better prices."
Shoppers spent a total of £132 million online on Christmas Day, up 29% on last year, according to Retail Decisions (ReD), and Boxing Day's online sales reached £281 million, up 23% on last year. Consumers logged on early in the day to pick up the best bargains with sales up an estimated 94% by midday, the company says, although sales slowed later in the day. On Christmas Eve, a day that's traditionally quiet online, sales rose by an estimated 68% to £181 million.
"Online stores like Comet, B&Q and John Lewis experienced early spending as internet sales were posted on Christmas Eve," says ReD. "Consumers were lured online by special deals on the most popular products and the last opportunity to take advantage of VAT at 15%."
Home delivery specialist Hermes has also reported a substantial increase in deliveries over the peak Christmas period. The company experienced a total of 10 record days of deliveries over the course of December, handling more than 500,000 items on three different occasions. December 10 was the busiest day of the month with more than 510,000 parcels delivered to homes across the UK, representing an increase of 21 per cent over the 2008 peak. Hermes' overall volume for December was up by 26.2 per cent, with more than 10 million consignments delivered during the month.