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UK Christmas shopping season gets off to a strong start online and by mobile

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Christmas trading has got off to a strong start online and via mobile, figures from both retailers and industry commentators suggest.

A raft of Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions appear to have helped lift sales across both days.

John Lewis said Friday’s sales on the website were more than double any previous single day’s trading. That helped push online sales for the week ending November 30 up by 35.7% on the same time last year. Ecommerce sales were 19.4% higher than the company’s previous biggest week. John Lewis sales hit £147m in total for the week, 18.4% higher than last year and 31.4% higher than the previous week.

John Lewis also started to see signs of the mobile Christmas it has predicted. Sales through mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers on Friday were three times the record previously set on one day’s trading. Traffic was also up: between midnight and 8am on Friday the site saw 323% more traffic than on a normal November Friday, and between 7am and 8am, mobile traffic was 1,340% up on the same day last year.

“Any doubt over whether UK consumers are interested in Black Friday has been cast aside as record sales were notched up online and via mobile devices for John Lewis,” said online director Mark Lewis. He predicted that customers, having bought large volumes of electricals and fashion items during the week to November 30, would go online to do their Christmas shopping in other categories.

“Combined with the push seen on Friday, we are seeing a marked change from previous years when the first Monday in December has traditionally seen the highest online traffic to more frequent peaks of demand during the festive season,” he said.

Affiliate Window reported a strong performance, starting on Friday and continuing into yesterday’s Cyber Monday. “With the initial figures for Black Friday and Cyber Monday now tallied, they show how consumers spread their shopping across both days,” said Kevin Edwards, strategy director at Affiliate Window. “There is no doubt that there were significantly more offers and deals available on Friday this year that contributed to the huge spike we saw. It will only be with further interrogation of the data that we’ll understand who the winners and losers were, but it is also worth considering how much the average basket grew by this year [an average £17.20, or 26%], perhaps highlighting growing consumer confidence in the state of the economy as well as a greater willingness to purchase online.”

Personalisation software provider Peerius said it saw a 30% rise in Cyber Monday online traffic to its clients, who include BHS, French Connection and TopShop, compared to the same Monday last year. Mobile traffic rose by 55% on last year, while the conversion rate grew by 1.4%. However, it said, the problems experienced by NatWest and RBS customers, who could not use their cards for three hours last night, hit conversion rates by 5% compared to Black Friday.

Meanwhile, ChannelAdvisor detected a 63% rise in Amazon sales on Black Friday compared to the same time last year, and an 84% rise in eBay sales. Over the weekend, Amazon sales were up by 46% and eBay by 20%, the company said, while on Monday, eBay sales rose by 16% on last year and Amazon sales by 13%.

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