Sales frenzy on Christmas Day: As stores lure millions with online bargains Church leaders ask what happened to family time?

Sales frenzy on Christmas Day: As stores lure millions with online bargains Church leaders ask what happened to family time
Sales traditionally start on Boxing Day but many retailer have brought theirs forward to try and boost sales
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has voiced concern over the move – claiming we run the risk 'of gadgets taking over our lives'

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UPDATED:

23:17 GMT, 23 December 2012

Britain's biggest internet retailers have brought their sales forward to Christmas Eve – and millions of us are expected to carry on shopping online through Christmas Day.

Stores worried by poor sales figures at the start of December will begin promoting bargains from noon today – confirming there will be no pause in the frenzy of commerce and consumerism for Christmas.

Sales traditionally start on Boxing Day but retailers are now using every trick in the book to steal a march on their rivals, both in the High Street and on the web.

Sales war: Retailers have brought their sales forward to Christmas Eve to try and boost poor sales figures at the start of December

Sales war: Retailers have brought their sales forward to Christmas Eve to try and boost poor sales figures at the start of December

Concerned: The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, argues that Christmas day is a time to share with family - not shopping

Concerned: The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. George Carey, argues that Christmas day is a time to share with family – not shopping

The Marks & Spencer online sale begins at noon today, while John Lewis starts at 5pm and Currys/PC World at 7pm. Amazon has already brought forward its sale by one day to start on Christmas morning.

Internet retailers predict that virtual shopping will go on throughout Christmas Day with a record 82million website visits – up 32 per cent on last year. At the same time spending, including on retail sites and eBay, is predicted to hit a new high of 307million.

All systems go: The move means there will be no break in consumerism for Christmas

All systems go: The move means there will be no break in consumerism for Christmas

But the trend for logging on to go bargain hunting on Christmas Day has alarmed church leaders.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord
Carey said: ‘Christmas Day is a time to be together with the family, to
focus on the children and to have a great time together.

‘This day is precious. We are now in danger of the gadgets taking over our lives and we are not in control of them.’

Today will also be busier than normal in the High Street as shoppers make a last-ditch dash to buy the fresh food and gifts.

Many were unable to complete their shopping yesterday because of the six-hour cap on opening hours caused by the Sunday trading restrictions.

The shorter opening hours on what is normally a very busy day for supermarkets caused long queues and frayed tempers at the tills.

M&S opened more than 60 of its outlets from midnight this morning for the first time to allow customers to buy their turkey and trimmings.

Internet shopping experts believe there will be 20million more visits to web stores on Christmas Day this year, taking the total to 82million.

Britons are the most avid internet shoppers in the world, according to a recent official study by telecoms and broadband regulator Ofcom.

An average UK resident spends over 1,000 a year shopping online, which is more than in any other country, even the United States.

Purchases of downloads of films, books, music and games will be huge, linked to the fact that millions of tablet computers, such as Amazon’s Kindle series, Apple iPads and Google Nexus devices, will be opened tomorrow morning.

Virtual shopping: Many retailers are launching online sales on Christmas day with website visits expected to be up 32 per cent on last year

Virtual shopping: Many retailers are launching online sales on Christmas day with experts predicting website visits will be up 32 per cent on last year

Last minute purchases: Christmas Eve is expected to be unusually busy as shoppers take advantage of last minute bargains

Last minute purchases: Christmas Eve is expected to be unusually busy as shoppers take advantage of last minute bargains

Boxing Day will be the biggest day of
the year for web shopping – overtaking ‘Mega Monday’ at the beginning of
December – according to IMRG, the trade body for online retailers, and
Experian, which measures traffic to websites through its Hitwise index.

A sell-out at Fortnum's!

There are expected to be 126million
visits to UK retail websites on Wednesday, which would be up 31 per cent
up on the 96million in 2011.

The total for the day would also be
14million more than on Mega Monday, while total spending is expected to
reach 472.5million.

Last year, some 300,000 made online
purchases at the websites of Currys and PC World between 7pm and
midnight on Christmas Eve and there were 1.8million visits to its
websites on Christmas Day.

A CHARITY CHRISTMAS NO. 1

A charity record dedicated to victims of the Hillsborough disaster is the Christmas number one.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, which was a worldwide hit for The Hollies in 1969, features stars including Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, and former Spice Girl Mel C, singing as The Justice Collective.

It beat Impossible, by this year’s X Factor winner James Arthur, which is at number two.

Proceeds will go to the families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in a crush at the Hillsborough stadium in 1989.

Chancellor George Osborne has said that he would donate VAT from the single’s sales to the charity’s fund.

Debenhams, which began its internet sale on Friday, had more than 800,000 visitors to its website on Christmas Day last year.

Andrew McClelland, managing director
at IMRG, said: ‘The post-Christmas sales period actually starts on
Christmas Eve online and, judging by these forecasts, it certainly finds
a willing audience.’

Amazon’s Xavier Garambois said: ‘Many customers are shopping on Christmas Day in a way that has previously only been seen in the retail industry on Boxing Day.

‘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.’

The Christmas Eve bargains