As I write this article, I can hear my fellow colleagues around me discussing, with a combination of anxiety and enthusiasm, what they’re planning to buy their loved ones this Christmas. I leave what I’m doing momentarily as this is an opportunity that cannot be missed. Nestled between these conversations are systematic ‘click clicks’ from each mouse as my co-workers glide them unknowingly across their mats. This is the inevitable sound of online Christmas shopping, and as I resume my now extremely current feature, I realise that time and money is not necessarily the enemy this Christmas when we have the mighty Internet at our disposal.
Analysts have predicted in spite of the economic down turn that has instilled fear among consumers and retailers, 2008 is still going to be a massive year for online Christmas shopping in the UK. The masses are ferociously turning to the web to save time and money and research has suggested that 68% of shoppers are more likely to shop online for their presents, with 77% of shoppers intending to actually carry out at least half of their purchasing online – it was 56% in 2007.
The research also highlighted that the Internet is becoming increasingly important as a tool for research before purchase, and for driving customer choice. IMRG (Interactive Media in Retail Group) also announced in their e-CSI index in October that 79% of shoppers were not only satisfied with shopping online, but pleased with the range of products available too.
“Christmas can be an expensive time of the year, and this year it will feel particularly so for many who are being squeezed in the economic slow turn”, says James Roper, CEO at IMRG. “Therefore, it is great to see high levels of awareness amongst Christmas shoppers and an increase in those turning to e-retailers over the festive season, with a strong satisfaction rating in the online shopping experience – especially delivery.”
Internet sales in the UK are climbing at an astronomic rate. Since the beginning of 2000, Internet sales have risen by 3,500% to £42bn this year! A rather impressive statistic when you consider the raft of reports we hear in the media stating the contrary. Many believe it is due to the introduction of retailers such as Primark, H&M and TK Maxx, who are responsible for creating robust competition to the high street heavyweights. As an indication of 2008 shopping trends, Primark, for example, stated that this year’s online sales have increased so far by 12%, while high street sales have fallen by 6%. It appears that retailers are effectively competing with themselves to clear stock of their shelves. The battle of online shopper versus high street shopper has commenced.
Despite the monumental success of online Christmas shopping, it is believed that more than 50% of the top 100 retailers will not make any revenue for Internet sales during Christmas 2008, due to the ironic fact they do not have their own website. Without a website and an online presence businesses are desperately missing out on a huge slice of the rich, Christmas retail pudding. And as people at home are finishing off their own Christmas pud on the 25th December, they’re not advancing to the sofa for a quick afternoon snooze, but to the computer instead. Last year, four million Britons spent an astounding £84 million on Christmas day online, even though shops were closed and sales were yet to start.
With the furore surrounding Alistair Darling’s proposed cut in VAT this week, shoppers are hoping to see reinvigoration on the British high street. It maybe too late to restore faith and balance this Christmas, but The Chancellor of the Exchequer has defied scepticism by stating: “The 15% cut will encourage the British consumer to keep spending and ease the threat of a prolonged period of recession.”
The cut is welcomed, but to really capitalise big you would need to spend big. The defining beauty of shopping online is people don’t need to spend big. The vast retail options on the Internet are only matched by its healthy competition, so online shoppers are spoilt with generous savings and exclusive delivery benefits.
Electricshopping.com are an online electrical retailer that are currently experiencing significant shopping activity with Christmas now under way. With over 35 years in the industry, they have witnessed the Internet evolve and how it is heavily relied upon today to not only search for gifts, but purchase them with speed, efficiency and security.
“At a time when we are all keeping a close eye on what we spend, consumers may look to the web in greater numbers this year both to secure a good deal on their Christmas shopping as well as save time,” says Rob Levy of electricshopping.com. “The highly competitive and transparent nature of internet shopping empowers shoppers to compare retailers on both price and service, great in better economic times, but critical when money is tighter.”
Right, I’d better start my Christmas shopping. I hear the Internet is a good place to start…