Online purchases rose by as much as 30% on Monday December 5, compared to the same time last year, according to new figures. But already experts are starting to suggest that 'Mega' Monday will not be the peak of this year's Christmas online shopping season, as had been expected. Rather they believe that next Monday, December 12, could claim that milestone instead. The reason? Because, it seems, more consumers trust that their online orders will be delivered on time.
IBM Coremetrics said that ecommerce transactions on the day rose by 30% over the equivalent Monday last year, while payment processor Sage Pay reported sales up by 17%.
Retailers of all sizes said that December 5 was their busiest ever online trading day. John Lewis said that on Mega Monday, johnlewis.com sales were up by 30% on the equivalent day last year, reaching £5.27m in total. The day also followed a record-breaking week, to December 3. David Barford, director, selling operations for John Lewis, said: 'Trade this week has continued its strong momentum with johnlewis.com breaking records and the home directorate putting in a fantastic performance."
Truffleshuffle.co.uk also saw its busiest day ever on Monday. Its managing director Pat Wood said the eight-year-old retro-T-shirts-to-novelty-gifts website, a Sage Pay customer, was enjoying an "unexpected" boost to Christmas sales, with sales up by between 5% and 10% on December 5 compared to the equivalent Monday last year. "We weren’t sure what to expect," said Wood. "We were having a flattish year like most retailers. I’m assuming people have been holding on to their cash for Christmas but they’re definitely spending it now." He said he also expected next Monday to see in a peak in sales at the site.
December 5, variously dubbed Cyber Monday or Mega Monday, was expected to be the busiest day of the year so far for ecommerce transactions, following a previous peak last Monday. Sage Pay, which processes payments for more than 36,000 UK online businesses, said that not only were more payments processed yesterday, the average amount shoppers spent rose by £3 to £91.
IBM, which gathers its data from more than 150 leading retailers, also said that mobile traffic rose by 203% compared to last year, with 12.6% of all site traffic and 9.7% of all sales coming from mobile devices led by iPhones, then Android phones, and finally iPads. Its figures found that shoppers were very focused in their shopping, cutting average session lengths by 4.3%. Each transaction included almost an average of almost four items, while order values were up by 1%.
Simon Black, managing director of Sage Pay, said: “As the outlook for the UK economy worsens in the wake of Osborne’s Autumn Statement, the public sector strikes and Phillip Green’s closure of over 200 shops across the country, e-tailers can take some solace in the strong growth in online transactions year-on-year.”
He said Monday lunchtime saw a spike in activity between 12 noon and 2pm, while transactions also increased at 4pm, towards the end of the working day.
Black said: “Among our customers, transactions have been rising steadily over the past couple of weeks as people turn their thoughts to Christmas, but the final pay packet before Christmas and the host of online deals have created a real frenzy among shoppers.
“With only a couple of weekends to go before Christmas, we’re expecting to break records all the way up to Christmas Eve.”
Online delivery management specialist MetaPack confirmed that the date had seen the highest internet sales and despatch figures so far - but said better was to come. According to its MetaPack etracker 100, yesterday's sales were up by 11% on the previous week, beginning November 28, which in turn was up by 15%, year on year.
"We have already surpassed last year's peak day trading,” said Patrick Wall, MetaPack’s founder and chief executive. “Our forecast is that Monday December 12 is likely to be the busiest day on the internet and that sales volume and value will stay high through that week. This is particularly important news for retailers and carriers. We are entering an unprecedented period of sustained, high volume.”
Retailer Mobile Fun said it expected its own peak trading date to be December 12, in both its UK and German markets and dismissed Cyber Monday as a PR story.
Its head of marketing Mark Riley said: "While Cyber Monday is a nice PR story, in reality we find that our customers leave buying gifts later and later each year, so ever nearer to 24th (Germany/France) or 25th December (UK). The main reasons being that consumers trust the internet more so don’t plan ahead." Mobile Fun pointed out that it was taking orders until 7pm on December 23 for next day delivery in the UK.
It also said that different days were peaks in its different European markets. In Spain, for example, the gift giving day is January 6, and it expects its peak online ordering date there to be January 2.
Meanwhile, supermarket Asda said its data showed that while 93% had started their Christmas shopping by this week, only 3% had finished it and a third have still to make most of their purchases. It expects the week before Christmas to be busiest of the year.
IMRG, the eretail trade association, has predicted that this year's online Christmas shopping season will peak across the first two weeks of a five-week December shopping season that started on November 28. During those two weeks it forecasts £3.72bn will be spent online in the UK, compared to a total £7.75bn for the whole period.