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Sales peak again on Manic Monday as the shape of Christmas shopping seems to change

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Sales peak again on Manic Monday as the shape of Christmas shopping seems to change
Sales peak again on Manic Monday as the shape of Christmas shopping seems to change
The shape of the Christmas shopping season is, it seems, changing once again.

It seems online and multichannel retailers now have another date to remember: Manic Monday, also known as the second Monday in December.

UK shoppers spent an estimated £666m during the course of December 8, according to IMRG and Experian figures. The cash was spent over the course of 149m visits to UK retail websites.

Early figures from delivery management software business MetaPack show a 25% rise in orders on that day compared to the equivalent day last year. The company says this confirms its prediction of four Christmas peaks, with Manic Monday deliveries only 4% lower than the number of orders placed on Cyber Monday. Over the Cyber weekend, which included Black Friday and Cyber Monday, its software was involved in the sending of five million parcels.

“We are expecting to see the highest spike of deliveries on Monday 15th with a much lower increase on the last Monday before Christmas,” said Patrick Wall, founder and CEO of MetaPack Group .

He says the changing pattern is coming as more people shop online at Christmas. A MetaPack study, carried out by Research Now, showed 22% of UK respondents planned to do almost all their Christmas shopping online, rising to 29% among the 35 to 44-year-old age group. Some 28% were planning to use click and collect services this year, while 85% would be opting for home delivery, even though 67% considered home delivery unreliable.

“This trend is fuelled by the fast adoption of alternative delivery options by consumers and retailers,” said Wall. With more and more online shoppers opting for click and collect, same day and Sunday service delivery, retailers are changing traditional delivery patterns to meet consumers’ needs for more convenience and choice.

“This is transforming the way people shop online, creating more spikes in online deliveries in the lead up to Christmas.”

But it seems the ecommerce rush will soon be over: 54% of respondents said they would not risk ordering Christmas presents after Monday December 15.

John Pincott, European MD at order management solutions provider Shopatron, agrees that increased delivery options are encouraging shoppers to buy later. "The shift in record spending away from the more traditional sprees at the beginning of the month reflects a rise in the number of retailers prioritising convenience for customers through services such as click-and-collect and multichannel," he said. "With shoppers able to buy and pick-up their purchases when its easiest for them, we can probably expect to see further peaks in online sales throughout the month.

"The days surrounding the weekends at the start of December are now best seen as more of a starting gun for Christmas spending spread across the month, with many retailers also continuing to offer flash sales throughout the following weeks rather than concentrate them on a few individual days. Combined with growing awareness amongst shoppers that they are no longer constrained by postal deadlines to make their purchases we may need to start naming more Mondays!"

Al Mackin, chief executive of analystics start-up Formisimo, said that on Manic Monday 26.04% of people, across 158 countries, who started filling in an online checkout completed it. This is up from 22.43% across December to date.

He said 31.9% of desktop users who engaged with a checkout ended up completing it, but only 22.3% of mobile users completed. Tablet users were a touch more likely to complete, with 23.4% of those who started filling in an online checkout making it through to completion.

Online shoppers in the US were among the most likely to convert on Manic Monday - they took an average of 36 seconds to complete an online checkout and almost 50% of those who tried to buy online got through the process. The US was second only to Ireland in the performance league table; with the UK in third place. Across December as a whole the US is in fourth position, and the UK is in seventh.

"There's a huge gulf between the time that a US and UK customer takes, with the average Brit taking 115 seconds to complete a checkout vs 36 seconds in the US," said Mackin. "Irish customers were the most likely to complete a buying process on Manic Monday but they took a huge 176 seconds to get through it."

He added: "On Manic Monday, Germany was the worst performing European country, with just one in every 10 customers who hit the checkout page and started typing actually making it through to the end. Those that did took 153 seconds, which is almost double the 93 second global average."

The story so far

Figures from IMRG and Experian show that UK shoppers spent £810m on Black Friday in 181m visits, and £720m on Cyber Monday, with 160.8m visits. Retailers have also reported strong Black Friday sales. Asos and John Lewis have said they notched up record sales in Black Friday week, and Amazon had its biggest ever trading day in the UK on Black Friday itself. John Lewis, however, found sales in the week including Cyber Monday had fallen back by 10.6% compared to the previous week, though they were up by 10.8% compared to the previous year. IMRG and Experian have predicted that Manic Monday sales would reach £676.5m, equivalent to spending of £470,000 a minute.

Deloitte research suggests another reason for the reshaping of the Christmas season – discounting – which drove Black Friday sales. But it warns retailers that this year’s price cuts, which it says happened partly to clear stock after a warm autumn and partly through the sale of goods bought in order to sell cheap, may create future expectations.

Jason Gordon, consumer business partner at Deloitte, said: “At the moment we are seeing marginally deeper pre-Christmas reductions than last year, and the success of Black Friday has demonstrated the UK consumers’ appetite for a bargain. However, retailers need to be careful not to create a consumer that is only willing to buy heavily discounted items.”

He added: “Christmas falls on a Thursday this year, so retailers could wait until early that week to make their final big pre-Christmas discounts, but we predict they will come before that, on the final weekend. Looking beyond Christmas, at the current sales velocity we will have noticeably deeper discounts from Boxing Day.”

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