Online sales hit record 20% of all festive shopping

Retail experts say high street retailers that offer multi-channel shopping options are best-placed to capitalise on growth. Picture: Greg Macvean

Retail experts say high street retailers that offer multi-channel shopping options are best-placed to capitalise on growth. Picture: Greg Macvean

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Online sales this Christmas have reached record levels and have accounted for between 15 and 20 per cent of festive shopping in Scotland this year, a retail expert has said.

A surge in online seasonal shopping meant today’s Boxing Day sales were likely to be “less frenzied” than in previous years, said Leigh Sparks, professor of retail studies at the University of Stirling.

The forecast came as shoppers were yesterday expected to break away from Christmas festivities to spend well over £700 million online.

Record numbers of consumers were set to spend “a significant proportion” of their day shopping online either to take advantage of the sales or return unwanted gifts.

They were expected to spend £728m, up 11 per cent on last year’s £658 million, according to data firm Experian and online retailing trade association IMRG.

However, average high street discounts are expected to top 50 per cent today as stores try to tempt shoppers with cut price Boxing Day deals.

David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, which represents the major stores, also highlighted a significant shift towards online sales ahead of the Boxing Day sales

He said: “Online retail sales continue to witness double digit growth and retailers with a strong multi-channel offer – meaning customers can shop in-store, at home and on the move – are best placed to capitalise on this.”

Prof Sparks said the run-up to Christmas in 2015 had seen a growth in online shopping largely for convenience, as he predicted it would impact on the Boxing Day sales.

He said: “It’s likely to be a little less frenzied because of the shift that’s been going on with the increase in Christmas online shopping.

“The rise in online sales is partly down to the fact that it cuts out the hassle and also that gifts can be delivered over long distances.

“We’re probably looking at between 15 and 20 per cent for online sales as a whole though.”

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