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Online customers shopping later for Christmas 2012

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Cyber Monday, previously established as the busiest online shopping day of the year, has been eclipsed for the second year in a row, according to new analysis.

Data from a range of companies working in the ecommerce and multichannel industries suggests that online shoppers not only spent more on Monday December 10 than on Monday December 3 – Cyber Monday – but will spend still more on Monday December 17.

MetaPack’s eCommerce Tracker found that Monday December 10 overtook Cyber Monday, Monday December 3, as the biggest day so far this year for online parcel traffic, with sales 7% up. Sales in the week up to December 8 were up by 10.1% compared to the previous week, according to the tracker.

There’ll be more growth to come before another peak is hit next Monday, predicts MetaPack.

“There will be a sustained increase in total sales this week,” said Patrick Wall, chief executive and founder of MetaPack. “Over the last two years online sales for the full second week so December have been around 2% higher than the first week of December. MetaPack expects to see a greater week on week increase in 2012.”

Cyber Monday, which in the UK is the first Monday in December, has in recent years been seen as the biggest shopping day of the year. But it is suggested that increased confidence from buyers that deliveries will arrive on time has reassured them they can order later.

Mark Pearson, founder of, agrees. He said 20% more sales took place through the site this week than last, with the average amount of money spent by shoppers rising by 31% on last week. This evidences, he believes, a shift in shopping patterns.

“The so-called experts got it wrong again,” said Pearson. “Every Christmas for the last three years, we’ve seen shoppers wait later and later to pick up deals, with so many retailers offering last minute delivery options.

“Mega Monday and Cyber Monday exist in the minds of marketers only. We saw very little difference between a normal day and these two dates. Having spoken to other online business owners, they’ve experienced a similar increase in sales this week. Retail experts are often simply analysts without any actual coalface evidence to fall back on. We’ll likely do more than £100m in sales for retailers this December, saving shoppers tens of millions of pounds, so I feel safe saying Mega Monday is a load of rubbish.”

And Chris Thomas, chief executive of independent online shoe store said it too expected to see a boom on Monday. “In a way, Mega Monday, has now shifted closer to Christmas,” he said, “with consumer confidence in online retailers growing in the past few years. Throughout the year the popularity of online shopping has gone through the roof and we are now seeing a climax of that trend. Retailers that have invested in online strategies are now reaping the benefits. With more choice and favorable consumer rights measures, shoppers find it convenient to shop for everything online.”

However, while ecommerce is growing in the approach to Christmas, footfall is down on last year and building more slowly, according to figures out this week from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) . In the week from December 3, the BRC-Springboard Footfall Monitor showed, 1.7% fewer people visited shops, compared to the same time last year, with shopping centres down by 4.9%, high streets by 0.8% and out-of-town locations by 0.4%. However, all locations saw footfall rise by 2.3% compared to the previous week, with shopping centres up by 3.6%, high streets by 2.2% and out-of-town locations by 0.9%.

Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, said the figures were “disappointing” in comparison with last year, but that it was good to see footfall rising week by week.

“Several factors are in play,” he said. “People who haven’t got spare money aren’t shopping. And cold weather, perhaps coupled with the media buzz around Mega Monday, may have motivated many to stay indoors and do shopping online rather than venturing out in freezing conditions.”

Springboard research director Diane Wehrle anticipated that the next two weeks would be the busiest for Christmas shopping.

However, research from SDL suggests that consumers plan to spend most of their budget online this Christmas. Its campaign and management and analytics division asked 2,000 adults how they intended to shop. The findings put internet shopping far ahead of in-store, with more than half of spend going online. Nearly ten per cent of online shopping is likely to happen on a smartphone, tablet or iPad, with 25-34 year olds most likely to buy Christmas gifts through a mobile device or tablet.

The study also suggested that high street footfall may not be boost retailers’ store trading figures as might be expected, since so-called showrooming could eat into margins. More than half (55.8%) of the adults surveyed said they had purposely visited a store to review products they plan to purchase online. SDL says savvy retailers are embracing showrooming by finding ways to encourage in-store browsers to connect with the brand online.

“While the data from those surveyed showed that more money will be spent online, the physical store is still very important and we believe the shopping season will be made up of customers experiencing brands through multiple channels,” said Bob Hale, chief executive of SDL’s campaign management & analytics division. “Understanding and engaging customers based on their preferred use of each channel creates a customer experience consumers will value during Christmas and all year round.”

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