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Christmas Shoppers leave it later than ever in important year for high street and online economies

Online shopping is booming and online retailers should brace themselves for the busiest December on record, as UK shoppers plan to leave their Christmas shopping later than ever. That’s the verdict from Experian, which revealed its predictions for the 2014 festive season this week.

In 2013, ‘Manic Monday’ – 9th December 2013 – witnessed a huge spike in online activity. Retail websites racked up 120 million visits on this day alone, an extraordinary 10% increase from the 2012 level, making ‘Manic Monday’ the biggest online pre-Christmas shopping day and that trend is set to continue in 2014.

‘Black Friday’ is the name given to the last Friday in November that has become one of the busiest retail days of the year. Black Friday originated in the US, but in the past few years it has increased in popularity this side of the Atlantic. Traditionally falling on the last Friday in November, the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday has come to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping period. Last year, in the week which ended November 2013, one out of every 550 searches was about ‘Black Friday’, a 19% year-on-year increase in visits to retail websites.

‘Cyber Monday’ is the term for the Monday after Black Friday. Like Black Friday, Cyber Monday has experienced an increase in popularity in the UK in recent years. Last year, Britons logged just over 115 million visits to retail websites on the day, a 9% increase from 2012.

Growing confidence levels in the standard of delivery services, including ‘click and collect’, is being recognised as a primary reason why shoppers are leaving it later than ever. According to Experian, retailers should be prepared to experience an even larger number of online visits than last year and should place added emphasis on the quality of their delivery service. The closer to Christmas retailers can guarantee delivery, the longer these bumper online sales will last.

Nigel Wilson, Managing Director, Consumer Insight, Experian Marketing Services UK&I, said:

“We believe that the second Monday in December will see a huge amount of online retail activity this year, potentially at the expense of Cyber Monday. This is because people are increasingly comfortable leaving their Christmas shopping later and later, due to growing trust in the ability of online stores to deliver closer and closer to Christmas.

Shoppers will be looking to retailers to place an added emphasis on their delivery services, with clear messaging about distribution. Brands should be looking to make sure they can offer home delivery as late as possible in the lead up to Christmas.

While we are confident in predicting that online activity will continue later than ever before this year, there will, as there always does, come a point where shoppers take to the high street to pick up those last-minute items. High street retailers should expect a big increase in footfall from the second weekend in December onwards.”

With online traffic to retail websites increasing by 15% between 2012 and 2013, Experian predicts that Boxing Day 2014 will continue this trend and will again set records as the biggest online shopping day of the year. For the sixth consecutive year, Boxing Day 2013 was the single biggest online shopping day of the year, with UK internet shoppers making 129 million visits to retail websites and setting a new daily retail sales record in the process.

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