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IBM Christmas retail report shows this was the year of increasing online sales and record adoption of iPad by shoppers

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The UK online retail sector delivered 16.4% sales growth in December 2012 compared to the same period last year, according to cloud-based analytics findings by IBM. Boxing Day had the strongest percentage increase with sales up 45% on last year. IBM’s findings follow a strong November where online retail sales were up 13.7% on 2011.

Delivered as part of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, the IBM Benchmark Christmas season report also reveals that Mondays still dominate, with Monday 26 November being a big online shopping day, and the following two Mondays in December almost tied as the two largest online shopping day, as was the case is 2011.

Mobile Traffic is now close to a quarter of all online retail traffic, with 24.2% of all online sessions on a retailer’s site were initiated from a mobile device in December, hitting a record high of 33.6% on Christmas Day. Overall, mobile sales represent more than a fifth of all sales: Sales from mobile devices were 20.3% in December, reaching almost 30% on Christmas Day.

iPad traffic in November tripled year-on-year, growing more than 200%. This compares to other mobile traffic which also grew significantly with Android increasing by 30.2% and iPhone 35.3% in November.

“The report suggests that this was the year of the iPad, not just as a device for shopping and browsing retail websites but also as the gift of choice on Christmas Day, when iPad traffic hit its peak at 17 percent,” says Chris Withers, UK head of Smarter Commerce, IBM. “This provides another clear reminder to retailers of the need to optimise browsing experiences for mobile devices.”

Another reason for and consequence of the surge in use of mobiles is the emergence of showrooming – the practice of viewing items in shops then buying online. 

A recently announced global IBM survey of 26,000 shoppers found that nearly 50% of online purchases in studied categories result from showrooming. It also found that 35% of shoppers are considering options for buying through a variety of methods beyond just the shop in the near future – a potential quadruple jump from the 9% that are ready to buy online now (these are worldwide figures and this is a separate survey from the Benchmark).

The full report is available to download here

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