Online sales on Boxing Day soar and mobile traffic surges at Christmas, IBM finds

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The UK online retail sector delivered 16.4% sales growth in December 2012 compared to the same period last year, according to cloud-based analytics findings by IBM.

Boxing Day had the strongest percentage increase with sales up 45% on last year. IBM’s findings follow a strong November 2013 where online retail sales were up 13.7% on 2011.

Delivered as part of IBM’s Smarter Commerce initiative, the IBM Benchmark Christmas season report reveals the following stand-out trends:

·        Mondays still dominate: Monday 26 November 2012 was a big online shopping day, and the following two Mondays in December almost tied as the two largest online shopping day, as was the case is 2011
·        Mobile traffic close to a quarter of all traffic: 24.2% of all online sessions on a retailer’s site were initiated from a mobile device in December, hitting a record high of 33.6% on Christmas Day 
·        Mobile sales represent over a fifth of all sales: sales from mobile devices were 20.3% in December, reaching almost 30% on Christmas Day
·        iPad factor: iPad traffic in November 2012 tripled year-on-year, growing more than 200%. This compares to other mobile traffic which also grew significantly with Android increasing by 30.2% and iPhone 35.3% in November

“The report suggests this was the year of the iPad, not just as a device for shopping and browsing retail websites but also as the gift of choice on Christmas Day, when iPad  traffic hit its peak at 17%,” said Chris Withers, UK head of smarter commerce, IBM. “This provides another clear reminder to retailers of the need to optimise browsing experiences for mobile devices.”

IBM said another reason for the surge in use of mobiles is the emergence of showrooming – the practice of viewing items in shops then buying online. 

A recently announced global IBM survey of 26,000 shoppers found nearly 50% of online purchases in studied categories result from showrooming. It also found 35% of shoppers are considering options for buying through a variety of methods beyond just the shop in the near future – a potential quadruple jump from the  9% that are ready to buy online now (these are worldwide figures and this is a separate survey from the Benchmark).

Retail Times’ readers can download the IBM Benchmark Christmas season report here.