Web sales 'to peak on Cyber Monday'
Online retailers are today expecting their busiest day of the year as pre-Christmas shoppers take part in Cyber Monday.
Internet shopping figures consistently peak on the first Monday in December, thought to be a combination of the last payday before Christmas falling on the previous Friday and a weekend spent browsing the shops before buying from home.
Online shopping is up 10.1% in 2013 compared to 2012, according to Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of all card transactions in the UK.
The first Monday in December last year represented the highest day of online spend in Barclaycard's history as online consumers spent an average of £57 per transaction.
This pushed up the proportion of total online spend to 28% for the day, up from the average of just over 19%.
Online electronic stores (up 66.5%), online family clothing stores (up 35.4%) and online department stores (up 31.5%) saw the biggest increases in spending on this Monday last year.
Visa Europe predicts £450 million will be spent on its cards alone as online transactions top 7.7 million, an increase of 16% on last year, potentially making this the busiest online shopping day in history.
Jeremy Nicholds, director of commercial development, said: "UK consumers' love affair with online shopping will reach its peak on Mega Monday when we predict that we will process 7.7 million Visa transactions - a 16% rise on last year.
"Online shopping now accounts for more than 25% of spend with Visa in the UK, signifying the confidence that consumers have in the security of online payments and in the delivery of goods.
"With an average of £312,500 expected to be spent online every minute on December 2, the Christmas shopping season will certainly start with a bang."
Royal Mail said that residents of Colchester have been out-clicking other towns for Christmas presents this year. Lincoln, Brighton, Swansea and Stockton-on-Tees are also among the top 10 UK towns and cities shopping for gifts from the comfort of their own homes.
The findings are based on an analysis of more than four million deliveries made by Royal Mail Tracked throughout November 2013. This is a service that tracks the progress of online orders from collection through to the delivery.
Online analyst Experian expects UK consumers to make 113 million visits to online retail sites today.
The Metropolitan Police urged internet Christmas shoppers to exercise caution while making their purchases to avoid falling victim to fraudsters and it s new Cyber Crime Unit has put together a check-list for people buying on the web.
Detective Chief Inspector Jason Tunn said: "These are simple tips to keep safe while you shop online for your gifts for friends and family.
"The last thing anyone needs is for their details to be compromised by cyber criminals and online fraudsters - especially during the Christmas period.
"Hopefully these safeguards are easy to follow and can be implemented even by those with limited computer skills."
The tips include installing protection on one's computer with anti virus or full security suite products; not clicking into links sent out by unsolicited spam or phishing emails; using a credit card instead of a debit card - credit cards may offer increased protection, and being wary of unsolicited mail asking consumers to visit sites for cheap deals on hard to get items. These may contain links designed to compromise a person's computer and steal their credentials.
The busiest shopping day on the high street often falls two days before Christmas Day, with Monday December 23 and Tuesday December 24 expected to draw peak numbers of shoppers this year.