Britons go online to smash Cyber Monday sales record

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Bloomberg

An employee carries a packaged and rolled-up rug as she works at an Argos goods distribution centre, operated by Home Retail Group. Online retailers in the UK experienced their busiest day as shoppers seek Christmas deals on the web. Photo: Bloomberg

London - Britons went Christmas crazy on Monday, with retail experts predicting the highest Cyber Monday spend ever of more than £600 million (R10 billion).

Shoppers are thought to have made at least 7.7 million purchases, almost half of which are expected to have been made on Amazon’s website. The retailer expects to smash last year’s record sales of more than 3.5 million items, when 41 purchases a second were made.

The first Monday in December, “nicknamed Cyber or Mega Monday”, has been identified as the busiest online shopping day of the year. But thousands of people across the UK were hit by a technical glitch that stopped their payments.

The problem at NatWest affected debit and credit card payments, the bank’s ATMs, smartphone apps and website.

Twitter users complained about being caught up in long queues at supermarkets and petrol stations as those affected struggled to pay.

Reports of cards being declined began at about 6.30pm, with one customer saying NatWest cards were being declined en masse at a supermarket in Kent.

One credit card provider alone predicted customers would spend a staggering £450m over the internet by midnight, 16 percent higher on last year. Visa Europe said this was the equivalent of £312 500 a minute or £5 208 a second.

John Lewis reported a glut of online shoppers, with the most popular purchases being clothes, tablet computers and Ugg footwear. A spokesman said its distribution centre in Milton Keynes processed about 6 000 items an hour, adding: “The iPad Air is the best selling gift for the fourth week in a row.”

The number of shoppers going online will overshadow Black Friday last week, when high street retailers slashed prices to ape high US sales the day after Thanksgiving.

A record £1 in every £5 will be spent online this Christmas, with the proportion of all retail internet sales, excluding food, hitting an all-time high of 19.9 percent.

Total internet sales last month were up 16 percent in a year, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium.

Britons will do more Christmas shopping online than any other nation, with 88 percent buying at least one gift on the web. The average consumer will spend eight hours researching and buying presents online, according to analysts Experian. Such is the rise of the web that it accounts for a quarter of all fashion and lingerie sales and almost a third of shoes and furniture.

Retailers made reductions of up to 68 percent on Monday during 24-hour Cyber Monday sales.

House of Fraser was offering 40 percent off selected lines, while Marks & Spencer was running a One Day Spectacular with savings of 20 percent on fashions and lingerie. The Boots event included “better-than-half-price” savings on gifts, ranging from beauty products to cameras, shavers and toys. Debenhams had 50 percent-plus savings on ten “hot offers”, while Gap took 40 percent off everything. – Daily Mail


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