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Internet retailing in 2009 — New Year benchmarking report

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Everyone, including the kitchen sink, seems to have leaped into the ecommerce sales prediction game this Christmas and New Year. But what actually happened? Here’s our round-up of the key statistics:

  • 28 million online shoppers spent £9.4 billion online during the holiday season, 20% below what IMRG was forecasting in November, says online payments system Moneybookers.

  • Next’s sale was the most searched-for online during the Christmas period, says Hitwise, and the retailer installed a ‘virtual queue’ system to cope with demand. The second most popular online sale was Debenhams, followed by Currys and John Lewis.

  • Boxing Day was the busiest day of the year in terms of traffic to online retail sites, with visits up 16.2% on the second busiest day of 2008 — Sunday 30 November. Boxing Day traffic was down 4.9% on Boxing Day 2007, though, says Hitwise.

  • In the US, ComScore reports that ecommerce holiday purchases were down overall by 3% over the same period last year, to US$25.5 billion.

  • In a Christmas Day statement, British Retail Consortium director general Stephen Robertson said that “Despite a last minute surge, it’s becoming clear that overall this has been a poor Christmas for retailers, as struggling customers cut back and traded down… Discounts and promotions on a scale unprecedented for the run-up to Christmas, combined with weak sales, have put margins under severe pressure.”

  • John Lewis saw traffic on Christmas Day up 12 times over one year ago. The retailer began its sale online at 6pm on Christmas Eve and recorded its busiest ever online takings between 7pm and 8pm that evening. “We had anticipated Christmas would come late to the high street this year but it certainly did arrive” said managing director Andy Street.

  • At PC World, Currys and Dixons an increase of 30% to 40% in visitors was recorded on Christmas morning with visitor numbers peaking between 1am and 5am. A spokeswoman for DSG International told the Guardian that the top sellers had been large televisions. “We’ve seen a real rush in the early hours of this morning with people visiting the online sites so they can be first to the deals,” she said. “Large televisions have been selling particularly well, people seem to be using the sales as an opportunity to upgrade their sets.”

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