Online sales provide relief for retailers on Cyber Monday but analysts warn of excessive discounting

Helen Cahill
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Online Retailers Amazon Prepare For Cyber Monday
Even on Black Friday customers veered towards internet and mobile shopping (Source: Getty)

​Cyber Monday delivered a much-needed sales boost for the retail sector as shoppers snapped up Christmas gifts on their mobile phones instead of heading to the shops.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday, retail discount days imported from the United States, have become a key focus for the sector ahead of the busy Christmas shopping period.

Online sales in the UK grew by three per cent yesterday compared to last year’s Cyber Monday, according to analysis by PCA Predict.

Furthermore, the internet was a revenue-raiser for retailers throughout the weekend; on Saturday, online sales jumped by 18 per cent, and on Sunday, sales were up by six per cent. Online sales were also up nearly six per cent on Black Friday, despite a drop on the high street.

Read more: DEBATE: Is there any point to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in Britain?

Across the pond, Cyber Monday is estimated to have generated $6.6bn (£5bn) in sales, according to Adobe Analytics, up from $5.6bn a year ago.

Back in the UK, London was home to some of the busiest Cyber Monday shoppers. The capital saw the biggest sales uplift compared to an average Monday, with sales soaring 199 per cent, according to data from Ve Global. Shoppers in south east London were the most active in the UK, with consumers in east London and north London ranking fourth and fifth respectively.

The cyber boom comes after footfall slumped by 3.6 per cent across UK retail destinations on Black Friday, according to analysis by Springboard. The fall in shoppers exceeded the forecast 0.6 per cent decline.

Read more: The short-lived frenzy that was Black Friday

However, retailers must contend with more than just a switch to online shopping. Shoppers are increasingly buying their goods on mobile sites, which present a new challenge for website developers.

Data from Ve Global found during yesterday’s morning rush in the capital (between 6am and 9am) more than half of online purchases were completed on mobile devices.

Black Friday has become an extended period of discounting, which analysts have warned will be detrimental to margins at a time when cost pressures are also rising.

According to retail analyst Richard Hyman, 84 per cent of non-food retailers were on sale last week. The discount season has become a “drug” for retailers who are unsure of how to attract shoppers, he said.

“As what used to be the golden quarter unfolds, retail distress is unfolding still faster. Discounts, job losses, the appointment of advisers to ‘review strategic options’ are all symptoms of an industry unsure of where its revenue line is headed.”

Read more: Retailers' profit margins have been squeezed since Black Friday hit the UK

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