Cyber Monday – Online Christmas spending reaches its peak

28th November 2011

The media cannot quite agree on whether to call it mega-Monday or cyber-Monday. But retail experts believe that a combination of pay day, the closeness of Christmas and the few weeks left for delivery of orders will see more than 3,000 orders a minute with online retailers as this BBC report suggests.

Of course it is not just in the UK. Stateside they are expecting the ‘virtual' tills to be ringing constantly as well. The concept has existed for at least six years, but only really beat expectations last year as All things digital's Tricia Duryee reports.

She writes: "Last year, the plan panned out and more than $1 billion-worth in items were added to virtual shopping carts across the U.S. to make it the heaviest online shopping day of the year – and the first time ever that a single day eclipsed the billion-dollar mark."

Certainly what the Americans call black Friday, the day after the Thanksgiving holiday when retailers ink turns black i.e. when they go into profit, saw record business as Comscore reports. Sales hit $816m last Friday.

But is this really an American marketing concept, rather than something that applies in the UK?

Not according to The Guardian which quotes the Interactive Media in Retail Group, the UK trade body for online retailers, predicting that £3.72bn will be spent online over the next two weeks, a 14% increase on last year. It also forecasts Christmas 2011 as the year when mobile shopping moves mainstream, with 35% of people saying they plan more shopping using their phones this year.

The IMRG says the figures may be spread over the next few weeks, rather than spiking on a particular day.

Indeed, the retailers themselves are trying to change consumer behaviour. For example, this year Amazon attempted to introduce the Black Friday concept to the UK choosing it as the date to launch a series of spectacular offers as this press release from the IMRG shows.

Certainly the twittersphere is abuzz with debate as website who talking demonstrates with bargin hunters getting very excited.

And it is not just a developed market phenomenon with global marketing website Warc predicting that China will become the world's biggest online retail market by the year 2015.

It quotes the Boston Consultancy as saying: "In 2015, the number of consumers accessing the net is due to hit 703m, still only representing 51 per cent of the domestic population. By this time, 329m buyers will be making purchases via the web."

In fact, around the world online retailing is the subject of research. Think tank the Australia Institute in this report the Rise and Rise of Online Retail divides online shoppers into two groups what it calls the ‘Mall Haters' and the "Bargain Hunters".

The report suggests that "Mall haters' are the minority who are more interested in shopping online for the convenience of saving time, avoiding travel or to avoid annoying malls and salespeople rather than purely for saving money. Mall haters may also be time poor (higher incomes) or have constrained mobility due ageing or disability. Mall haters are also more likely to try to buy everything online (29% compared to 20% for bargain hunters)".

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