How we spent 300m shopping online yesterday as the turkey was cooking: Retailers struggle to cope with demand



00:47 GMT, 26 December 2012

Families spent an estimated 300million shopping online on Christmas Day morning as they shunned traditional activities to bag a bargain.

Retailers struggled to keep up with demand as thousands logged on to buy cut-price tablet computers, smartphones and Kindle e-books.

Clothing, electrical items and jewellery at up to 90 per cent off also sold out within half an hour of going online.

The big bargains on the web

The frenzy will extend to the high street this morning as the traditional Boxing Day sales begin.

Shoppers queued from the early hours of this morning outside stores such as Next and Marks and Spencer to ensure they were first in line for the bargains.

Amazon had already predicted that yesterday would be its busiest Christmas Day to date as thousands of customers logged on to buy downloads for its new Kindle and MP3 players.

Its 'lightning sales' – where clearance and low-stock items went online for just two hours – proved so successful that some goods sold out within half an hour.

A PlayStation 3 games console bundle, reduced from 499.99 to 329.99, sold out within minutes. Canon EOS 600D digital SLR cameras reduced by 33 per cent from 949 to 634 were also quickly snapped up.

Watches and jewellery were among the most heavily discounted items and included an Invicta quartz watch with stainless steel strap reduced by 90 per cent, from 521 to 52.56.

The top Amazon sellers

A Philips automatic bean-to-cup espresso machine was reduced by 56 per cent from 450 to 199.99.

Few people were in the mood to shop for vacuum cleaners, however. Only 2 per cent of Montiss Mistral cordless vacuum cleaners, with a 70 discount, were sold before the sales window closed.

Xavier Garambois, Amazon's vice president of EU retail, said: 'The digital revolution has certainly played a part in this growth. 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.'

Strike hits London shoppers

Amazon was one of several retailers to bring its sales forward from Boxing Day to steal a march on rivals. M&S discounted stock online by up to 70 per cent, two days before its in-store sales and John Lewis also began its online sales on December 24. The store, however, will not start its high street sale until tomorrow.

Chris Webster, of technology analysts Capgemini, said: 'Online tills will be ringing all the way from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day, including a massive 300million 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.'

Sales frenzy

According to price comparison website, shoppers in the UK will spend 2.9billion in the Boxing Day sales. A poll found almost four million of us, or 8 per cent, will head to the high street today. Five million, or 10 per cent, will shop online.

Just a few years ago chains like M&S and Next delayed opening their main outlets until December 27, allowing weary staff a break. Now, thousands of workers will be manning the checkouts as normal.

Last year, M&S opened 98 of its main stores at 7am on Boxing Day. However, it will be 178 this year, plus another 29 furniture outlets and 235 of its Simply Food stores.

The pattern will be followed by other chains such as Debenhams and House of Fraser as stores use every tactic to boost takings over the crucial festive trading period.

All the major supermarkets, such as Tesco and Sainsbury's, will also be back to their normal hours in the hope of strong sales ahead of the New Year celebrations.

The only major names to stick to tradition and hold off opening on Boxing Day are the John Lewis group and Morrisons.

December has been difficult for many retailers who rely on festive trade for more than 40 per cent of their annual sales and profit. Total spending this week is expected to reach 4.7billion as retailers dump unsold stock.