Shoppers to splash $690K a minute on Christmas Day

Rather than spending the day playing board games with their loved ones on Christmas Day, Britons will be hitting their tablets and phones in an online shopping frenzy, according to the latest study.

Mobile devices will drive sales on the one day of the year when all shops in the UK are shut, according to data from UK e-retail association IMRG and Experian, which estimates that Britons will spend £636 million ($993 million) – that's £441,000 ($689,000) a minute -- on December 25, with sales climbing to £519,000 a minute on December 26.

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An employee wears a festive hat as she re-packs a tablet device on the semi-automated processing line at an Argos goods distribution center, operated by Home Retail Group in the U.K.
Simon Dawson I Bloomberg via Getty Images
An employee wears a festive hat as she re-packs a tablet device on the semi-automated processing line at an Argos goods distribution center, operated by Home Retail Group in the U.K.

At the same time, December 25th this year is also set to be Amazon.co.uk's busiest day ever for sales of digital books, music, television, films and video games, as the online retailer has seen Christmas Day purchases grow by more than fivefold over the past five years.

This frenzied activity started relatively early in the U.K. Black Friday – long a preserve of the U.S. -has now been adopted by U.K. retailers, sparking a rush to online retailers tills at the end of November.

"Over recent years, Boxing Day has typically been the busiest online shopping day of the year as consumers log on in search of a bargain from the comfort of their sofas. However, the festive sales started early this year with Black Friday discounts and promotions attracting a record number of online shoppers in the UK," Tina Spooner, chief information officer at IMRG, said.

"Although we expect Boxing Day to be even bigger than last year, with online spend up around 40 percent year-on-year, it is unlikely to eclipse the unprecedented level of sales on Black Friday when e-retail sales reached a staggering £810 million," she added.

Download dash

Amazon said orders peak at 12.26pm on December 25th, with shoppers rushing to download books, movies and TV programs on newly gifted or purchased digital devices.

From midnight on Christmas eve to 11am on Christmas morning, sales of printable and email gift cards peak on Amazon.co.uk, as customers scramble to pick up last chance presents.

"Christmas Day is our biggest day of the year for downloads of books, apps, music, films and TV shows as people look to enjoy the new devices they have received on Christmas morning," said Christopher North, Managing Director at Amazon.co.uk Ltd.

"By the evening, customers are ready to get a head start on their sales shopping with everything from homeware to fashion to big ticket technology proving popular," he said.

Changing Tastes

Even though retailers started the discounts early with Black Friday, online stores need to be increasingly switched on to fact that shopping is changing, with consumers happy to leave their online purchases until later in the festive season, general manager at consumer insight at Experian Marketing Services, Giles Longhurst said.

Pre-Christmas delivery services in the U.K. are pushed to the limit, with growth of 24 percent to 149 million visits to online stores on the 8th December and a 38 percent jump on 15th December to 146 million visits, he added.

In the run-up to Christmas day, supermarkets are also trying to up their gameand so far have splashed out over a third more on TV and press advertising in the first week of December compared to the same week a year ago, according to data from global information firm Nielsen.

Overall, shoppers are expected to spend over £6.5 billion online and in store in the two weeks up to the December 25th at UK supermarkets, so there's still much for the retailers to play for in the remaining days of Christmas trading, the group said.