Belfast Telegraph

Cyber Monday leaving shoppers unimpressed

By Margaret Canning

Cyber Monday has not been fully embraced in Northern Ireland with shoppers still attracted to bricks and mortar shops, it's been claimed.

Experian-IMRG predicted £943m would be spent online during Cyber Monday yesterday, 31% higher than the £720m spent last year.

But that was unlikely to beat the rush to shop online on Black Friday, when shoppers shunned the high street to spend £1.1bn online.

This year's Black Friday bonanza was the first time in the UK that online retail sales surpassed £1bn in one day.

Criona Collins, retail director at commercial property agents Lambert Smith Hampton, said Black Friday had been a success for Northern Ireland retailers.

"There was an obvious feeling that local retailers were more prepared this year and many successfully created a calmer atmosphere in store by running their deals across the whole weekend as opposed to just for one 24 hour window. Independent retailers also jumped on the bandwagon, which until this point had been reserved primarily for the big brands in the UK."

And while Cyber Monday is described as the busiest day of the year for online shopping, Miss Collins said that crowds of shoppers on Belfast's streets yesterday suggested that high streets could still pull in the crowds.

"Shoppers still enjoy the experience and the tradition of visiting their favourite stores, or taking a day off work to get prepared for the festive season."

Rob Fenton, UK managing director of business data agency fifty-five, said Cyber Monday "struggles to attract such a devoted level of attention among British shoppers".

Aodhan Connolly, director of the NI Retail Consortium, said the whole period from the end of November to the close of the January sales was crucial for retailers' revenue and for planning for the year ahead.

And he said Northern Ireland online shopping had now caught up with Great Britain - and that the move online should ensure towns worked harder to attract trade.

Neville Moore, managing director of Ulster Stores, said it had been planning for the weekend's trade since the start of this year.

"During the run up to, and during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we witnessed increased sales with a strong trend towards gift items such as fragrance. We also had a great response to winter products with the arrival of more seasonal weather.

"Both Moores and The Whitehouse also ran Christmas Gala events which offered customers discount and in store activity, and we were delighted to report that these were our most successful ever with good footfall in both stores."

And while Black Friday and Cyber Monday were growing in prominence, Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, said Small Business Saturday, which falls on Saturday this week, should be a focus for the public.

He added: "While Small Business Saturday is all about showcasing our fantastic local small businesses, it is also crucial that consumers go the extra mile by shopping with local independent retailers on December 5, throughout the Christmas period and beyond.

"Independent retailers are making a serious comeback in Northern Ireland and offer something different to multiple retailers, making our town centres that bit more diverse."

Belfast Telegraph