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Time-starved shoppers bought online this Christmas: study

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Time-starved shoppers went online to make their fashion purchases this Christmas, eschewing the high street as they did so, new research suggests.

That meant department stores enjoyed an online boost this Christmas as time-poor shoppers, at a time when high street visitor numbers dropped, today’s Kantar Media Compete Seasonal Shopper Insights found.

For while the study found that department store websites enjoyed a 9% lift in visitor traffic in the run-up to Christmas, December footfall was down by 1.2%, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Springboard Footfall Monitor.

“Comparing online fashion retail data for 2011 and 2012 indicates that increasingly time-poor shoppers appreciate being able to make their fashion purchases, whether these are gifts or ‘Christmas party outfits’ for themselves, under one online roof,” said Jeremy Radcliffe, managing director, Kantar Media Compete UK. “This trend is helped by department stores’ commitment to enhancing their online offerings as they look to become truly multichannel. Initiatives such as Click & Collect at John Lewis for example are proving popular with consumers because of the flexibility they offer.”

Among the department stores, Debenhams saw the largest growth in visitor numbers, with a 36% boost in visitor numbers to its fashion pages in the approach to Christmas 2012, compared to the previous year.

The report also found that while brand-only fashion retailers still saw the highest number of browsers, average conversion rates for these sites dropped from 9% in December 2011 to 7% in December 2012.

The fashion categories that saw most growth in 2012 were nightwear and underwear. In December 2012, purchases of women’s items increased by 18% from 2011, and men’s by 28%.

Gift cards were also popular, with sales up by 6% between 2011 and 2012, peaking in December. The most popular cards were those from Marks & Spencer and Debenhams, which between them won a majority of sales.

Men accounted for 40% of all browsers on fashion websites in 2012, up from 38% in 2011.

To find out more and download the full Seasonal Shopper Insights, visit

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