107 million UK visits to retail sites on Christmas day

07/01/2013

UK Internet users made 84 million visits to retail websites on Christmas Eve and 107 million visits on Christmas Day up an astonishing 86% and 71% respectively compared to the same days in December 2011, according to new data. The study, from Experian, found that on Christmas Eve 1 in every 125 searches conducted in the UK included the word 'sale' or 'sales'.

Insights taken from the Experian Hitwise online competitive intelligence tool, show that Christmas 2012 was the biggest and busiest ever for online retailers in the UK.

New records were set for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day as consumers went online in their droves to buy last minute Christmas gifts and take advantage of early discounting. UK Internet users made 84 million visits to retail websites on Christmas Eve and 107 million visits on Christmas Day up an astonishing 86% and 71% respectively compared to the same days in December 2011.

Although Christmas Eve was expected to be much bigger this year than it was last year because of the fall of the days (Christmas Eve being on a Monday and a half working day for much of the population) the actual visit figures dwarfed original predictions of a 32% YoY increase.

The 'sales creep' and early discounting in some of Britain's major stores is one of the key reasons for the increased visits online. On Christmas Eve, 1 in every 125 searches conducted in the UK included the word 'sale' or 'sales,' the top sales search terms being 'next sale', 'debenhams sale', 'marks and spencer sale' and 'john lewis sale'. It's clear from this data that a much of the growth in visits can be attributed to the big department stores promoting their sales and discounts early.

Amazon UK also contributed to the record visits figures, overtaking eBay UK on Christmas Day as the most visited retail website online for the first time in 2012. Amazon UK accounted for over 12% of all visits to retail websites on Christmas Day with many recipients of the Kindle or Kindle Fire HD looking to register their new devices, buy books and new accessories.

James Murray, Digital Insight Manager at Experian Marketing Services commented; “Boxing Day has traditionally been the single biggest shopping day of the year online. This year we predicted that Boxing Day would see UK Internet shoppers make 126 million visits to retail websites and in doing so set new records for online shopping. Things could go either one of two ways. Either, the boom in post-Christmas shopping could mean our cautious predictions of 31% growth for Boxing Day are smashed out of the park, or the early buying on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day could mean Boxing Day is slightly subdued.”

James Murray added that “Christmas is proving to be a peak time for online shopping in the UK, so marketers need to make sure their campaigns are in place to maximise traffic on across these days in the future as consumers make the most of early sales offers: it’s worth promoting special offers through email and social media. Understanding what people are interested in, the best channels to engage customers through and when to reach them will be crucial to success this over future festive seasons.”

Experian Hitwise Methodology: Based on UK internet data from an Experian Hitwise sample which monitors a quarter of the UK online population. The predictions are based on forecasts from internet growth over the last 12 months and historic visits data over the last two years.

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