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Is Cyber Monday in the UK a Big Deal?

Monday marked Cyber Monday in the UK; a day projected to be the largest online shopping day pre-Christmas, and second only to Boxing Day in all of 2012.  Visa projected up to 6.8 million transactions on retail sites yesterday, spending up to 465 million GBP.  That figure puts online sales up 21 per cent on the equivalent day last year.  Experian projected the UK will make 115 million visits to online retailers, 36% more than last year's "Cyber Monday" which saw 84.6 million visits.  The final data on growth has not yet been released, but early reports from retailers such as Marks and Spencer suggest that Cyber Monday delivered on the expectations. 

Akamai works with dozens of retailers in the UK, and hundreds globally, and tracks the traffic, in page views per minute, across all retail sites in our Retail Net Usage Index.  To look at the potential surge in traffic this Cyber Monday, we broke out UK traffic coming on all retail sites globally.  Our data suggests that while Cyber Monday was a strong day, perhaps there is more hype in the size of the day than reality.  In fact there are a handful of other retailers, like Sebastian James of Dixons, that are also skeptical of Cyber Monday's allure: "I don't think Cyber Monday has the same power it may have had. It dates back to a time when you had to wait two weeks for a delivery, but now we do 24 hour delivery and will offer reserve and collect up until Christmas Eve."

The chart below looks at the daily peaks and averages of UK retail traffic from the start of November through to Cyber Monday.  While there is a marginal trend of growth in the Sunday and Monday peaks each week (shoppers typically research purchases on Sundays and buy on Mondays), the peak on Cyber Monday is only 6.5% higher than November 11th, during the mid-season sales.  The averages have shifted slightly upwards as well, but outside of the mid-season sales, the trend notably begins on the US Black Friday, rather than Cyber Monday. Does this data suggest that UK shoppers are shopping earlier, and more globally?  If so, there may be an opportunity for UK retailers to capture more of the local shopper's pounds if sales were to begin earlier in November.

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Looking at the traffic changes under different lenses lends some additional interesting insights into shopping behavior:

  1. Saturday Belongs to the High Street: Saturdays drive the lowest amount of traffic, repeatedly, week after week.  This is an indicator that shoppers are enjoying the experience of shopping on the high street on the weekends, rather than online retail sites. 
  2. Sunday Research Day: Shoppers first come online in numbers on Sunday night.  This is largely research-driven traffic as shoppers investigate the deals they are most interested in preparation for Cyber Monday.  This is true not just during Cyber Monday weekend, but most weeks of the year.UK Blog 2a.png
  3. Cyber Monday Peaks in the Evening:  On Cyber Monday, shoppers first start to come on in numbers at 7:00 AM, over their morning coffee, and continue coming online in numbers throughout the early workday, peaking at the lunch hour.  In the afternoon, they get back to work, and then head back online again after dinner, ultimately peaking to its highest point at 8:00 PM.

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We'll wrap up with the highlights on the all the growth reports as they come in.  We'd also like to hear your stories.  How did your site fare this Cyber Monday?  Did your site see new peaks, similar to Marks and Spencer?