Online retailers should brace themselves for the busiest December on record, as UK shoppers plan to leave their Christmas shopping later than ever, according to new research.
The Experian Festive Insights Survey, acknowledges the on-going significance of “Cyber Monday”; the first Monday in December, as a big day for online retail activity. However, it is no longer the busiest day for pre-Christmas online shopping in the calendar, with the second Monday of the month, dubbed “Manic Monday”, now claiming that title.
In 2013, Manic Monday (9th December 2013) witnessed a huge spike in online activity. Retail websites racked-up 120 million visits on this day alone, an extraordinary 10% increase from the 2012 level, making “Manic Monday” the biggest online pre-Christmas shopping day and that trend is set to continue in 2014.
Growing confidence levels in the standard of delivery services, including ‘click and collect’, is being recognised as a primary reason why shoppers are leaving it later than ever. According to Experian, retailers should be prepared to experience an even larger number of online visits than last year and should place added emphasis on the quality of their delivery service. The closer to Christmas retailers can guarantee delivery, the longer these bumper online sales will last.
Nigel Wilson, Managing Director, Consumer Insight, Experian Marketing Services UK&I said: “We believe that the second Monday in December will see a huge amount of online retail activity this year, potentially at the expense of Cyber Monday. This is because people are increasingly comfortable leaving their Christmas shopping later and later, due to growing trust in the ability of online stores to deliver closer and closer to Christmas.”
“Shoppers will be looking to retailers to place an added emphasis on their delivery services, with clear messaging about distribution. Brands should be looking to make sure they can offer home delivery as late as possible in the lead up to Christmas.“
“While we are confident in predicting that online activity will continue later than ever before this year, there will, as there always does, come a point where shoppers take to the high-street to pick up those last-minute items. High-street retailers should expect a big increase in footfall from the second weekend in December onwards.”
The graph above shows the comparison between online and offline retail activity during the Christmas shopping season 2013. Using Experian Hitwise and Experian Footfall data we can see a pattern of shopper behaviour, telling the story of how people shopped, both on and offline last year. The busiest pre-Christmas dates for online retail activity are clearly identifiable at the start of December, peaking on Manic Monday, before the online activity tails-off and the offline/footfall numbers steadily increase, as shoppers flocked to the high-street to get those last minute gifts. No more so is the divergence in consumer behaviour more profoundly demonstrated than on Boxing Day, where we see virtually no footfall and a huge spike in web activity, as people start looking for post-Christmas bargains online.
Festive insights – The key dates
“Black Friday” – November 28th 2014
Black Friday is the name given to the last Friday in November that has become one of the busiest retail days of the year. Black Friday originated in the US, but in the past few years it has increased in popularity this side of the Atlantic. Traditionally falling on the last Friday in November, the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday has come to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping period.
Last year in the week ending November 2013, 1 out of every 550 searches in the UK was about ‘Black Friday’, and on the day itself (29th November 2013) there was a 19% Year on Year increase in visits to retail websites.
“Cyber Monday” – December 1st 2014
Cyber Monday is the term for the Monday after Black Friday. Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday has experienced an increase in popularity in the UK in recent years. Last year Britons logged just over 115 million visits to retail websites on the day – a 9% increase from 2012.
“Manic Monday” – December 8th 2014
Retail websites saw a massive 120 million visits on the second Monday of December last year, an extraordinary 10% YoY increase. This meant that Manic Monday was comfortably the biggest online pre-Christmas shopping day and it is expected to see even more activity this year.
“Boxing Day” – December 26th 2014
For the sixth consecutive year, Boxing Day 2013 was the single biggest online shopping day of the year, with UK Internet users making 129 million visits to retail websites and setting a new daily retail visits record in the process.
With online traffic to retail websites increasing by 15% between 2012 and 2013, we predict that Boxing Day 2014 will continue this trend and will once again set records as the biggest online shopping day of the year.