Online shopping is set to reach an annual peak in the U.K. today as Britons splurge on Christmas gifts from “Toy Story 3” DVDs to Apple Inc. iPads, according to trade organization Interactive Media in Retail Group.
Internet spending today and yesterday will be more than 500 million pounds ($786 million), IMRG said in a statement. About two-thirds of that will be on the busier of the two days, known as “Mega Monday,” according to the researcher, which forecasts 6.4 billion pounds will be spent on the Web in December.
Online sales may get an additional boost this year as snow and freezing temperatures sweep across the U.K., keeping shoppers at home. Web sales will probably increase by 15 percent this Christmas, compared with growth of about 1 percent in total retail spending, according to estimates by Deloitte LLP.
“Consumers have looked to spread the costs of Christmas a bit more this year due to the economic climate, but Dec. 6 is the day that our retailers expect sales activity to be at its highest,” said David Smith, managing director at IMRG.
U.K. online sales are set to surge in coming years as retailers extend their delivery coverage and more shoppers use the Web. Total online revenue may account for 20 percent of retail spending by the end of the decade, compared with less than 10 percent now, according to Deloitte.
Snowy weather is boosting U.K. online spending by about 130 million pounds, or 19 percent, a day as consumers stay at home and order on the Internet, according to a study commissioned by price comparison website Kelkoo and conducted by the Centre for Retail Research. By contrast, daily sales at stores are down by about 110 million pounds, or 9 percent, the research shows.
The earliest widespread snowfall in the U.K. since 1993 has disrupted road, rail and air traffic, with very low temperatures likely to continue this week, according to the Met Office.
John Lewis Partnership Plc said that online revenue surged 62 percent in the four days through Dec. 2, while sales at its department-store chain stopped growing.
Top-sellers for the holiday will include the Kindle e-reader, “Call of Duty: Black Ops” video game and Bananagrams toy, according to Amazon.co.uk, which on last year’s busiest day got orders for 2 million items at a rate of about 23 per second.
“This is likely to be our biggest Christmas on record,” Brian McBride, managing director of the U.K. unit of Amazon.com Inc. said in the IMRG’s statement.
Best Buy Europe expects strong demand for 3-D gaming and Samsung Electronics Co.’s GalaxyTab tablet-computer, Andrew Brem, multichannel and services director, said in the statement.
Online holiday sales are already ahead of last year, according to Venda, which processes about 2 percent of all U.K. non-food e-commerce transactions. The number of orders placed on Nov. 28 exceeded the highest number recorded on any day last year and the following day saw a further 21 percent increase, the e-commerce provider said in an e-mailed statement.
“We will continue to see new records in the volumes of transactions in the run-up to Christmas as consumers put more trust in the online operation of brands,” Eric Abensur, Venda’s chief executive officer, said in the statement.