Belfast Telegraph

Big freeze a boon for online retailers as web sales rocket

By Elaine Loughlin

Increasing numbers of shoppers are going online to grab their Christmas presents as the cold snap keeps them at home.

Yesterday, dubbed “Uber Monday”, was the busiest online shopping day of the year with a whopping £633m spent on internet websites.

This outstripped last Monday’s spend by 18%. Online retailers had thought “Mega Monday” would not be beaten this season.

The busiest minute of the day came at 1.15pm yesterday when voracious shoppers forked out a massive £831,000.

Many have put rocketing sales down to the big freeze which has kept Christmas shoppers indoors, but online purchases have been increasing each year.

Toys, books, cookery sets, clothes, sat navs and games consoles are all proving popular with customers opting to surf the net instead of pounding the icy high street pavements.

Some 26.6% of people intend to do more shopping online than last year according to eDigitalResearch, and 45% of online UK adults are planning to use the internet to buy gifts this week.

Amazon’s UK managing director Brian McBride said he was not surprised by yesterday’s massive sales and expected this Christmas to be the biggest on record.

“Last year on the corresponding day, we received orders for two million items at a rate of around 23 items ordered per second.

“With more orders than ever expected, we have expanded our fulfilment network to a total of six fulfilment centres in the UK, covering three million square feet — that’s around the same size as 37 football pitches,” he said.

Mr McBride said the video game, Call of Duty: Black Ops, the DVD of Toy Story 3 and the Kindle portable e-book reader were some of the more popular gifts being snapped up on the website.

Moneysupermarket.com’s shopping expert Simon James said that the snow and ice had come as a bonus for online retailers as consumers turned their back on the high street.

Interactive Media in Retail Group managing director David Smith said: “Now that everyone has been paid we have seen online Christmas shopping really burst into life for this year during yesterday’s lunch period.

“Mondays tend to have the highest spend of the week as people go out to the shops over the weekend and try the products before making a decision.

“With over half the population of the UK now shopping online, this Christmas looks to be a big one for retailers, possibly even exceeding our estimation of £6.4bn spent online in December,” he said.

After yesterday’s peak, online shopping is now expected to drop by 6.8% next week in the days coming up to December 18 which is forecast to be the biggest high street splurge.

Top 10 online purchases

1. Nintendo DSi

2. Buzz Lightyear Jetpack

3. Microsoft Kinect

4. Call of Duty: Black Ops (video game)

5. Toy Story 3 Blu-ray

6. iPad 16GB wifi

7. Lego City Airport

8. PlayStation 3 console

9. Michael (new Michael Jackson CD)

10. Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals

Compiled by Moneysupermarket Shopping

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