Record numbers of UK shoppers visited retail websites on Boxing Day- with analysts suggesting shoppers are also using the internet to identify bargains.Information service Experian said UK consumers made 113 million visits to retailers’ websites on 26 December.
The number of visitors to the High Street on the same day was up 0.64% on last year’s Boxing Day trade, according to Experian.
Some big name retailers started their online sales on Christmas Day.
UK internet users made 84 million visits to retail websites on Christmas Eve and 107 million visits on Christmas Day, up 86% and 71% respectively compared to the same days in December 2011, according to Experian.
The Boxing Day level – 113 million visits – was 17% up on the same day in 2011. Typically, during the year, there is an average of about 70 million visits on Mondays – the busiest day of the week for online shopping.
“The UK sales creep continues to advance so that now the post Christmas sales are starting before Christmas,” said James Murray, digital insight manager at Experian.
“Five years ago we called it the January sales, before it became the Boxing Day sales, now retailers have to call it the winter sales as discounting starts earlier to encourage higher spending.”
Shoppers headed back to the High Street, with large department stores such as John Lewis throwing open their doors for clearance sales.
Yet, retail consultants have said that many people heading out to the shops will have already browsed online to choose the items they want.
The squeeze on family finances is likely to keep the lid on retail sales, especially on big ticket items.
However, some positive news in employment levels means that some stores could still record a decent level of sales in the significant post-Christmas sales period.
Experian Footfall said that there was “quiet optimism” on the High Street with the number of shoppers up slightly on 26 December, compared with the same day in 2011.
The growth of the internet means that the peak in sales might already have taken place.
Mr Murray, of Experian, said that 26 December was traditionally the single biggest shopping day of the year online.
And now, shoppers are using digital devices such as tablets and smartphones to search for bargains – then only travel to those specific shops to buy those items.
The amount people spent online was expected to account for 12% of total retail spending.