Christmas Day Online Sales Surge Predicted

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Bargain season begins in force today as online retailers slash prices ahead of an expected onslaught of consumers hitting the high street for the traditional Boxing Day sales.

Amazon's UK website said it had seen sales on Christmas Day increase by 263% over the last five years.

It expects this to be its busiest Christmas Day to date, partly due to the growth in home broadband and the popularity of tablets and smartphones.

The retailer is launching its Boxing Day deals a day early, which include clearance offers and "lightning deals" for a limited time and quantity of stock.

Trends seen on past Christmas Days on Amazon include an 11am rush for last minute gift cards, the spending of gift cards at midday and sofa surfing at 8.15pm.

Amazon's vice president of EU retail, Xavier Garambois, said: "The digital revolution has certainly played a part in this growth and Christmas Day is our biggest day of the year for MP3 and Kindle Book downloads, as many people are buying content from new devices that they have just received.

"It's not just digital items though, we are seeing purchases of everything from baby products to women's clothing rapidly growing on Christmas Day. Many customers are shopping on Christmas Day in a way that has previously only been seen in the retail industry on Boxing Day."

According to MoneySupermarket.com, shoppers in the UK are set to spend a total of £2.9bn in the Boxing Day sales.

Furniture Village said visits to its website on Christmas Day last year peaked at 25,000 at 4pm, with that figure increasing to 50,000 on Boxing Day, suggesting that the majority of customers researched products online before buying from high street stores.

Chris Webster, a spokesman for technology analysts Capgemini, said: "Online tills will be ringing all the way from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, including a massive £300m spent on Christmas morning itself.

"Christmas Day will see a surge in online sales as new tablets and smartphones are put through their paces and vouchers are cashed in for virtual goods such as movies and music.

"This year we're as likely to be downloading Queen's Greatest Hits as watching the Queen's speech."

Meanwhile, high-street spending was "acceptable but not exceptional" this festive period, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Head (Other OTC: HEDYY - news) of media and campaigns Richard Dodd said poor accessibility on high streets, a lack of parking and weak consumer demand were to blame rather than an increase in online shopping.