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More than a quarter of UK Christmas shopping will be online in 2011 and 12% from mobile: study

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More than 25% of seasonal shopping will take place online this Christmas, according to the latest research from shopping comparison site Kelkoo. And of those, 12% will be made via a mobile.

The study found that UK households would spend more on gifts than those in other European countries, spending an average of £437 per household. They would also spend £184 on food and drink, £41 on travel and £20 on decorations, taking their total seasonal budget to £682.

Some £174, 25.5% of that total spend, predicted the study, carried out for Kelkoo by the Centre for Retail Research, would be spent over the internet. That means UK shoppers will spend £13.43bn online in total, 16.3%, or £1.88bn, more than at the same time last year, if the forecasts are correct. Some 33.7% of that online spending will be on gifts, the survey predicted, with 24.5% on Christmas travel, 20.6% on decorations and 6.7% on food and drink. Offline sales are expected to fall by 2.1% to £55.66bn.

Of that online spend, some 12%, or £1.64bn, is expected to be through a mobile phone. UK smartphone owners are expected to spend 45% of the £3.68bn likely to be spent via mobile phone across the whole of Europe.

Chris Simpson, chief marketing officer at Kelkoo, said: “In spite of public spending cuts across the UK and the rest of Europe, the research suggests that overall household budgets will grow by 1% this Christmas in the UK compared to last year and online spending will continue to thrive, playing a key role in propping up overall retail growth.

“In particular, we were interested to see that this year, shopping on mobile phones is set to increase significantly, opening up more opportunities for retailers to sell any place, any time. Our advice to retailers that are not geared up for mobile shoppers is to make sure they invest as soon as possible, otherwise they will miss out on a very lucrative shopping platform which is expected to account for more than one in ten online purchases this Christmas.”

But with large sums expected to be spent online this Christmas, cloud computing company Rackspace has issued a warning that more than a third of consumers will abandon online shopping carts and retail apps that take more than 10 seconds to load.

Fabio Torlini, VP of cloud at Rackspace Hosting, said: “Our study shows that 90 per cent of the UK adults we surveyed plan to buy at least some of their Christmas presents online, but over a third of busy shoppers will be gone in 10 seconds if they have to wait for websites or apps to load. This means that retailers need to prepare their web-based store fronts for surges in demand by having the right cloud hosting service in place - especially if they offer discounts and other deals, which may instantly attract masses of bargain-hungry online shoppers.”

Meanwhile, Rackspace’s survey suggests that the UK’s seasonal shoppers will spend £158 on average, bringing the total online spend to £6.85bn this Christmas. Some 53% said they would start their shopping in November.

It also found 23% would buy presents online using a smartphone or tablet. That’s 6%, or 2.9m people, more than last year. In addition, one in five (18%) of shoppers say they will use their smartphone in store to scan product barcodes to compare prices online before buying.

Online shopper, Barry Craig, a 25 year-old creative marketer for production studio Taylor James, sai: “On average I spend 80 to 90 hours per week browsing and shopping online using my PC, smartphone and iPad. I work long hours and any shopping I do must fit around work, so I’d have to abandon a frozen website after five seconds. I grab group buying deals to save money, and use online voucher deals and QR codes often as they make the online process easier. This is really important at Christmas time when I’m spending a lot but shopping in-store is anything but pleasurable.”

Rackspace’s Christmas recommendations for retailers

Review

A full audit of your infrastructure will ensure your network connections are properly sized to handle a high influx of web traffic

Ready

A readiness load test 6-8 weeks in advance will test the capacity of your site and add additional hardware capacity changes if necessary.

Rehearse

If possible, simulate different types of failures in a development environment before the live date. The best way to handle failure is to practise failing

Reinforce

Work with your support team to make sure multiple web servers are up and running during high-traffic times, which will ensure your site stays up during critical high-traffic times

Remedy

Look at your average daily traffic volume, analyse any downtime you had and correlate it to the cause. Begin working on a plan to remedy it for next year
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