Christmas shoppers in the UK are today forecast to shell out £312,500 a minute online during the busiest day of the year for internet traders.
British consumers are predicted to make 113 million visits to shopping sites in the annual pre-Christmas spree known as Cyber Monday.
Cyber Monday got its name after internet sales figures showed consistent peaks on the first Monday in December, thought to be down to the last payday for some before Christmas falling on the previous Friday and a weekend spent browsing the high street before buying online.
Visa Europe is expecting £450 million to be spent on its cards as internet transactions top 7.7 million, a jump of 16 per cent on last year’s total – potentially making today the busiest internet shopping day in history.
Jeremy Nicholds, Visa Europe director of commercial development, said: “Online shopping now accounts for more than 25 per cent of spend with Visa in the UK. With an average of £312,500 expected to be spent online every minute [today], the Christmas shopping season will certainly start with a bang.”
Visa Europe and John Lewis predict the most frenzied buying to take place between 8pm and 9pm tonight and tomorrow night, while Amazon expects most sales at 6pm tomorrow.
On Cyber Monday last year, Amazon UK saw more than 3.5 million items ordered at a rate of around 41 items per second, meaning a delivery lorry packed with orders left one of the retailer’s eight UK distribution centres every two minutes.
But it is not all bad news for the high street. Although online buying will play a bigger role than ever in Christmas shopping this year, new research by mobile phone company O2 shows more people are combining virtual and physical shopping trips to get the best results.
An increase in popularity of services such as “click and collect” show that online purchases are supplementing rather than replacing real store experiences.
“The digital revolution and the mass-market arrival of 4G is creating a nation of smart shoppers,” according to Feilim Mackle, director of sales and service at O2.
“For these consumers, armed with smartphones and tablets, the journey from browsing to buying has fundamentally changed. They want to move seamlessly between the virtual and physical worlds and the onus is now on retailers to make it a simple, easy and consistent shopping experience.”
Cyber Monday comes just days after the US’s annual Black Friday shopping frenzy, which was this year marred by violence as bargain-hunters fought over heavily discounted goods on the country’s biggest shopping day of the year. Four people died and a further 56 were injured when 97 million Americans hit the shops the day after the Thanksgiving holiday.
In Chicago police shot an alleged shoplifter, while a shopper was shot in Las Vegas in a dispute over a television and a California police officer had his wrist broken in a fight.
The high street usually sees its busiest shopping period two days before Christmas, and this year peak numbers of shoppers are expected on both 23 and 24 December.