Monday 29th November is set to mark the start of ‘Cyber Monday Week’, the busiest sales period on the Christmas calendar as shoppers receive their last pay cheque before Christmas.

Traditionally a US concept, UK businesses and retailers are beginning to recognise Cyber Monday Week as one of the most hectic and profitable shopping occasions of the year.

A recent online survey conducted by YouGov reports that 45% of online UK adults plan to shop on the web between 29 November and 6 December with 27% due to spend over 200 GBP on this year’s Christmas gifts. Almost three fifths (57%) of those aged 25 to 44 plan to shop during Cyber Monday week versus just 35% from the 55+ age group.

David Smith, MD of IMRG said, “Last year, £350m, (more than £1m per minute) was spent on Cyber Monday. Growth for the first three quarters of 2010 has averaged 16% above last year and 3 percentage points above our 2010 forecast. During the fourth quarter we predict Britons will spend 17.4 billion pounds shopping online, up from 15 billion pounds in the fourth quarter of 2009”.

A report by price comparison website Kelkoo for the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) states that online sales are set to peak at a staggering £22.4 million per hour on Monday 29th November, this year’s “Manic Monday” as the report calls it.

Kelkoo CEO Richard Stables comments: “Cyber Monday is the most important day in an e-tailers’ calendar. Online retailers can see sales rise by up to 60% in the six weeks running up to Christmas compared to the rest of the year, and at no time is this more evident than on Manic Monday, when online sales are forecast to peak at £22.4 million per hour”.

He concludes that ‘Panic Saturday’ (Saturday 18th December) is expected to be the busiest day of the year on the high street, with 10 million consumers expected to hit the shops in a last minute rush to buy Christmas gifts at a cost of £1.11 billion.

However, despite forecasting a total uplift in sales this Christmas, a YouGov SixthSense report reveals that as individual consumers, one in four shoppers intend to be more frugal this year compared to last. 36% of people interviewed said they aimed to spend between £100 and £249 on friends and family and 46% saying they would spend between £100 and £249 on food and drink.

James McCoy, YouGov SixthSense Director states, “Many companies have pre-empted consumer reluctance to indulge in major purchases; Sony’s promise to return VAT on products bought before Christmas Eve is one such example. “

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