Christmas Sales Benefit From Online Shopping Spree

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Christmas and Boxing Day web sales have broken all records and mobile devices feature strongly in the seasonal melee

Experian and IBM have been independently measuring online traffic for online Christmas sales. Not surprisingly, they both measured a massively increased volume compared with 2011.

Experian said that website visits peaked at 107 million visits on Christmas Day, up by 86 percent on last year. IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark for the UK measured increased sales of 45 percent on Boxing Day when compared to 2011.

Chris Thomas, CEO and founder of the UK independent shoe retailer Cloggs.co.uk, said, “Christmas Day itself and Boxing Day broke all records, in terms of visitor numbers and sales as people took advantage of aggressive discounting available across all big brand names.”

Put it on the slate

Handheld devices are being used increasingly by the holiday period bargain hunters. “We have seen an increase of 1,000 percent compared to last year. Consumers are checking offers and prices and making purchases on the go, wherever they are and whenever they feel like it,” Thomas revealed.

IBM also found a similar, though somewhat more modest increase in the 150 retailers it monitors. Its cloud-based web analytics platform reported a 31 percent share for mobile device browsing on Boxing Day, up on 2011 by 20 percent. It also revealed that purchases from smartphones and tablets showed a 25 percent share, up by 16 percent.

The company broke this down further and reported iPads as the primary bargain-hunting tool over other mobile devices. The increase over Boxing Day last year was 109 percent and this represented 16 percent of the mobile traffic.

“These figures don’t come as a surprise,” said Chris Withers, head of Smarter Commerce at IBM UK. “Retailers started their promotions early this year but shoppers have still been holding out for the best prices around after Christmas. Going online is one way of ensuring they get these deals.”

The more surprising result from IBM is that social shopping traffic referred through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube only generated 0.19 percent of the sales bonanza. This will disappoint the social shopping supporters but it does not negate the concept because it is about talking about products and building brand loyalty.

Conversion of conversations will not necessarily be a direct link from a social network to retail website, especially during the sales season, because a bit of search engine bargain hunting will precede any decision.