Boxing Day record for online retail sales

Consumers made 113 million visits to retail websites on Boxing Day, making 26 December 2012 the busiest day ever for online retailers, according to information service Experian.

The record number of visits saw a 17 per cent increase compared to last year, although the figure was 13 million lower than originally predicted.

Early sales during the Christmas break also led to the busiest online sales period recorded with 84 million visits on Christmas Eve and 107 million on Christmas Day - both up 86 per cent and 71 per cent respectively - as shoppers went online for last minute gifts and early discounting.

Earlier in the month, Monday 3 December - dubbed 'cyber Monday' - had been the busiest day for online retail in the UK. Companies such as Amazon, eBay and Argos accounted for a 30 per cent share of all online retail visits on this day, with 62 per cent going to the top 100 websites in the industry.

Two mobile websites also accounted for the third and sixth highest share of visits, indicating the increased appetite for the medium.

James Murray, digital insight manager at Experian said: "Boxing Day set a new British record for online shopping with 113 million visits going to retail websites in a single day. However, with a number of the major retailers bringing their sales forward to Christmas Eve, the impact of that was that Boxing Day was slightly muted and not as prolific as we forecast.

"Christmas Eve has traditionally been one of the poorest performing days of December for online retailers, but this year there were 84 million visits - on a par with last year's Cyber Monday. The UK ‘sales creep' continues to advance so that now the post-Christmas sales are starting before Christmas! Five years ago we called it the January sales, before it became the Boxing Day sales, now retailers have to call it the winter sales as discounting starts earlier to encourage higher spending."

Shoppers made the most of the high street sales on Boxing Day, but commentators said that many heading out would have already browsed online to search for the items they wanted.

The British Retail Consortium said Christmas trading on the high street had not been exceptional.

"Overall, Christmas hasn't been a boom time for UK retailers but it hasn't been complete doom and gloom either," said the BRC's director general Helen Dickinson.

"There are big variations in individual retail performances but, when the final sums are done, total spending is likely to be up modestly on last year though only broadly in line with shop price inflation."