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Online Christmas Day spending expected to exceed £1bn | Business


Shoppers are forecast to spend more than £1bn online on Christmas Day after retailers lowered prices on Christmas Eve and the last-minute dash to the high street failed to materialise.

The number of people visiting high streets, shopping centres and retail parks was down nearly 8% by midday on 24 December compared with last year, according to the customer data firm Springboard. “I am quite surprised by the extent of the drop,” said Diane Wehrle, the organisation’s insights director.

She said a combination of factors was likely to be at play including low consumer confidence, the switch to online shopping and a reaction against buying unneeded items. The arrival in the UK of Black Friday, which usually falls in late November, has also changed shopping patterns, persuading bargain hunters to bag their presents early.

“Black Friday being so much stronger has taken quite a lot of steam out of the market,” Wehrle said. “There has been a real change at Christmas.”

Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Currys PC World and Boots kicked off their sales online on 24 December, as they have done for several years. An expected 7.3 million people were expected to shop online on Christmas Eve spending £734m compared with £850m in stores, according to Vouchercodes and the Centre for Retail Research.

Discounts this year will be greater than recent years after low footfall in the final shopping days before Christmas and evidence that the difficult trading on the high street is spreading to online retailers.

In the past, the last few days, or even weeks, before Christmas were dedicated to shopping on the high street, as home deliveries from online retailers could not be guaranteed to arrive in time for 25 December.

However, shops now face competition from online players right up to the last minute, as companies including Argos and Amazon accept same-day delivery orders on Christmas Eve. Subscribers to Amazon’s Prime Now service, for example, can order up until 21.15 on Christmas Eve for same-day deliveries before midnight.

Amid heavy competition, John Lewis said sales for the week to 21 December were down 5.1% on the same week last year, even after it extended its deadline for click-and-collect orders up until Christmas Eve.

It blamed the poor figures on sales being pulled forward into the Black Friday discount period in late November. Fashion and beauty sales were down by just over 5% but homewares and technology performed even worse – down 8.9%.

Boots is offering half-price discounts on selected No7 cosmetics and Oral B toothbrushes as well as some Christmas gift collections such as Champneys bubble bath.

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M&S has 35% off a cashmere wrap as part of a list of knitwear price cuts of up to 40% off. It also offered 20% off champagne and half price on beauty gifts and some children’s wear, including a unicorn T-shirt on Christmas Eve.

John Lewis was offering 50% off womenswear on Christmas Eve, while Hobbs and Whistles upped their price cuts to 70%, from 50% at the weekend.

Late last week, Topshop and Miss Selfridge increased their discounts to up to 60%, from 40% and 50% respectively earlier in the week, while Jigsaw, Peacocks and House of Fraser increased their price cuts to 50%, matching Debenhams and Oasis. The online fashion retailer Boohoo was offering 80% off.



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