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Tom Salmon

Managing Director

Data from Experian and IMRG suggests that Black Friday was just the start of a record breaking e-tail Christmas.

Data from Experian and IMRG suggests that Black Friday was just the start of a record breaking e-tail Christmas.

Experian and IMRG predict that Christmas shoppers will spend a record breaking amount online this December, with Manic Monday outstripping Cyber Monday with 151 million visits to online retail sites and £676.5 million spend.

Black Friday has been and gone. It certainly made the headlines as hundreds of thousands of shoppers battled to get their hands on a bargain both on and offline. It looks like the frenetic US culture of Thanksgiving and Christmas retail is here to stay in the UK.

However, a recent survey from Accenture showed that 57% of the 500 UK Consumers they surveyed in mid-September had already started or planned to start purchasing presents. Early-optimisers, those retailers who plan their content, ad strategies and site optimisation for the pre-Christmas peaks, started work in the early summer to get ready for the festive surge.

According to Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer at IMRG, smartphones and tablets are set to account for over half of all traffic to retail websites during the festive season and on Black Friday alone, online spend via mobile devices was reaching over £196m.

She commented; “E-retail sales have grown 17% year-to-date in 2014 and retailers are increasingly confident in their online performance during the fourth quarter, which indicates the industry is gearing up for another record-breaking Christmas”.

Caused by increased confidence in delivery times, click and collect and the ubiquitous use of mobiles for search and purchase, the key peaks for retailers are likely to be Cyber Monday (the first Monday in December) and Manic Monday (the second Monday in December). The Experian-IMRG projections demonstrate huge consumer confidence in shopping online, even in the last few weeks before Christmas.

Let’s look at the projections, which are based on insights from the combined datasets of Hitwise and the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index.

Christmas peaks

  • Manic Monday is predicted to surpass Cyber Monday, making it the busiest pre-Christmas online shopping day in the UK, with 151 million online visits to retail sites spending an estimated £676.5 million.

Christmas spend 2014

  • Online sales on Black Friday (28th November) were expected to reach £555.5 million, with smartphone and tablet devices accounting for £196.6m.
  • Online traffic on Manic Monday is expected to be up 26% year on year, with shoppers spending an average of £470,000 each minute. Traffic on Black Friday was predicted to have grown by 17% versus 2013.

These peaks of interest are of huge importance to online retailers. Campaigns that respond to the surge in purchase activity, including technical optimisation, content, social and display are important to any marketer who wants to engage customers during these competitive peaks.

The figures also suggest that retailers lacking a mobile-first approach are likely to have missed a huge opportunity.

Accenture’s 2014 Christmas Shopping Survey indicates that with the proliferation of smart phone use and advances in technology, digital will play a more significant role in Christmas shopping this year.

  • 34% of consumers surveyed believe shopping with a mobile device will lead to better discounts and also help them compare prices while in a physical store
  • On Black Friday, 44% of consumers surveyed, said they will use a personal device – a laptop, tablet or smartphone – to shop
  • 57% to use one of these devices to shop on Cyber Monday

Understanding consumer behaviour is hugely significant. Indeed, the Experian-IMRG report identifies a handful of key demographic types that they believe are behind the rise of online sales in the lead up to Christmas.

James Miller, Senior Retail Consultant at Experian Marketing Services said; “Online shopping is an important leisure activity for a wide variety of people, from active middle-income families with teenage children to young singles. These tech-savvy groups are typically early adopters of new technology trends, prolific online shoppers, and active users of mobile and tablet devices.”

In summary, the winning retailers this year will have;

  • Planned early
  • Integrated their onsite optimisation, content and advertising strategy to start in earnest in September, ramping up as the peak retailing days bring greater competition
  • Put mobile at the heart of their thinking

If you would like to talk to an expert to plan your Christmas e-tail strategy for 2015 now, please don’t hesitate to get in touch