Online retailers expect bumper Christmas
(Guardian Web Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Internet retailers are gearing up for a bumper Christmas, with consumers forecast to spend £4.6bn online during the first two weeks of December, up from £3.7bn in the same period last year.
Just under £1bn of that – £920m, or 20% – is expected be spent using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers, according to the forecast from the e-retailers' industry body IMRG and consultants Capgemini.
It is the first time the annual survey has included the devices in the break down of Christmas spending, and the figure compares with just 8.2% in the first quarter of this year.
Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said: "What we are seeing in this 20% mobile forecast is a shift in the way consumers interact with brands online. While it is still common for consumers to browse the shops at weekends before making the final purchase online at Monday lunchtime, we are increasingly seeing the popularity of 'second-screening', where people browse on their mobile devices in front of the TV.
"Our recent research with eDigitalResearch found 80% of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices in this way, so we can expect to see that 20% share continue to grow in 2013."
Chris Webster, head of retail and technology at Capgemini, said: "The ramp up of online sales rung up by retailers during the peak weeks will be of huge relief following the challenges of the summer period; from spending constraints to Olympic-sized distractions. Retailers need to gear up for the twin peaks of online sales in early December and in-store sales which follow.
We have seen this year that mobile access is a must-have, not a nice-to-have for retailers, with close to a billion pounds set to be spent via mobile devices this Christmas. Indeed, our research conducted in partnership with the MIT Centre for Digital Business discovered that the most digitally advanced brands are 26% more profitable than competitors. Christmas 2012 will illustrate this better than ever before."
IMRG and Capgemini expect the peak weeks to be those starting 3 and 10 December, a week later than last year. The reason for this is that payday for many people will fall after the 26th, the final Monday in November. The two Mondays falling within the peak period are expected to be the biggest for many online retailers, but the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index has recorded heightened sales activity during the entire two-week period over the past few years.
The new technology means the identification of a peak spending day – known as cyber Monday in the US and mega Monday in the UK – is no longer meaningful. But there does appear to be a phenomenon whereby some retailers experience different peak days to others. Amazon, for example, is anticipating Monday 3 December to be its peak; eBay usually sees it on a Sunday. In October, IMRG surveyed 25 senior e-commerce professionals to see when they thought their peaks would be; 44% said during the week beginning of 10th December, 22% said 3rd December and 22% said 26th November.
Consumer affairs correspondent Olivier Ropars, senior director at eBay's mobile division, said: "This will be another recordbreaking 'super Sunday' for eBay UK, with sales volumes around six times as high as on an average Sunday in September. Technology, and particularly mobile, have become catalysts for growth and have changed the way that we shop for good.
"The high street as we knew it, where the 'showroom' inside the four walls of the store was the centre of our shopping experience, has transformed for ever. Consumers now carry a global store in their pocket allowing them to shop anytime, anywhere."
He pointed to the findings of research commissioned by eBay, conducted by Conlumino in October 2012 into consumer attitudes to mobile shopping, from a nationally representative sample of 2,000 consumers. "This year over half (55%) of UK consumers plan to use their mobile device more than they did last year to browse the web, while almost the same number say they'll use mobile devices to get inspiration, check prices or product details (39%).
"At eBay, we're expecting 30% of all purchases made on the site this Christmas will be through mobile devices, leaving no doubt that mobile retail remains firmly on the rise among Britain's hordes of shoppers."
(c) 2012 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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