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Retailers vye for online trade as Christmas season heats up

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Retailers are vying for online trade as they approach the busiest period of their year.

With Cyber Monday expected to come on Monday and be followed by a three-week shopping spree, traders are starting to ramp up discounts and promotions to entice hard-pressed Christmas shoppers to spend their money with them.


Amazon’s Black Friday Deals Week is now underway, promising “more deals on more items then ever before”, while Apple is getting set for a one-day Black Friday event on November 23. And Christmas campaigns from retailers including The Body Shop and The White Company are now in full flight. “Black Friday Deals Week offers millions of pounds of savings on hundreds of Christmas gifts as well as every day essentials,” said Christopher North, managing director, Amazon.co.uk.

“From electric toothbrushes to the must-have video game or cookery book of the year, it’s a great opportunity for customers to make great savings on things they want for themselves as well as gifts for others.”

Wayfair, the US homewares site which has recently celebrated its first anniversary in the UK market, says its biggest ever UK sales peak was on Cyber Monday November 28 at 4.30pm.

“Last year we saw a major sales peak on Cyber Monday which despite it not being a major day on the British retail calendar, it has today become our biggest trading day of the year,” said Joel Stevenson, UK managing director of Wayfair.co.uk. “We’re gearing ourselves up for it again by offering mass discounts and free delivery on thousands of homeware items and furniture.”

In its latest Christmas trading figures, John Lewis said online sales rose by 31% in the week to Saturday November 17 compared to the same time last year. Group sales in the same week were up by 7.6%. John Lewis managing director Andy Street said: “After another successful week’s step up to Christmas, our online (up 31 per cent year on year) and EHT (electrical and home technology) sales make it clear there is real trust in John Lewis as we approach this critical period.

“Price-matching activity this week has once again reassured shoppers about our commitment to being Never Knowingly Undersold whilst partners across distribution are gearing up to the peak online week, which we expect in just three weeks time.”

While Street predicts December 9 for the start of the peak shopping season, IMRG has said it expects £4.6bn to be spent online in the weeks beginning December 3 and December 10. And in its Adobe Digital Index 2012 Online Shopping Forecast, Adobe predicts a three-week shopping spree across Europe that will start on November 26 and produce an immediate 25% lift to daily sales.

It also predicts a spike immediately following Christmas, with retailers in the UK in particular seeing a 150% increase on Boxing Day compared to the average day. Its analysis, which comes from predictive analytical analysis of visits to Adobe-powered retail sites over the past six years, also envisages a peak for bricks-and-clicks retailers in the week of December 3. Etailers, it says, will see a peak in the week of December 10.

The predictions also look at mobile shopping, where the UK is expected to enjoy the biggest growth in Europe. Adobe says 13% of UK online sales will take place over mobile devices this year, compared to 6% last year. In France and Germany 9% of online sales are expected to be made this way. And sales via a tablet are also set for growth, says Adobe, forecasting a 166% rise in such transactions this Christmas, from 3% of sales last year to 8% this year. Simon Morris, marketing director, digital marketing business at Adobe, said: “With the average retailer expecting 32% of its annual online revenue to come from the three-month festive period from November to January, it’s more important than ever for marketers to leverage big data to accurately forecast the trends before they happen.”

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