These days most items are just a click away
Every year Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier - at least in the retail world!
This year was no exception as we saw retailers getting ready for the anticipated Christmas rush even before Black Friday or Cyber Monday arrived.
This was followed by Last Friday Frenzy and Super Shopping Saturday the weekend before Christmas and has continued right throughout the rest of the Christmas season.
Today's so-called Boxing Day sales have started long ago. The red sale signs were already appearing in the windows of shops by mid-December and many of the leading multiple chains again cleverly started their Boxing Day Sales online on Christmas Eve.
In-store, during the Christmas season, retailers have been trying to make it easier than ever for shoppers to purchase what they want and pay with as much ease and facility as possible, using mobile technology like tablets to secure payment in order to avoid long queues at the tills or checkouts.
Today is likely to see some die-hards out on the streets early hoping to catch seasonal bargains and no doubt some will have camped out overnight in the cold in order to get their pick of the best products available.
However, there is another breed of savvy shoppers who don't even bother to get up off the couch. They prefer to shop from the warmth, safety and comfort of their own homes by shopping online on laptops or tablets (many of them new Christmas presents).
This year, shopping never really stopped over the Christmas period with many retailers reporting strong online sales on Christmas Day itself - another growing trend.
After the Christmas lunch was over and families had settled down for a relaxing afternoon, many grabbed their mobile devices and went shopping again.
You see, shopping is as easy as scoffing a mince pie these days. You simply log-on, start surfing and - before you know it - the doorbell is ringing, with the delivery man bearing another parcel.
There's no need to brave the cold weather - you just sit back, start clicking, and the goodies arrive at your front door in no time!
I predict that today will be another bumper day of shopping, but I also respectfully suggest that tomorrow will be even busier, and many consumers, bored with being trapped indoors over the holidays, will be keen to have a look around their local shops to see if there are still any bargains out there to be had.
And, believe me, there are!
- Donald McFetridge is retail analyst at the Ulster University Business School