December 24, 2008, 12:00 AM

U.K. online retailers gear up for a busy Christmas Day

More than 5 million British consumers will go online Christmas Day and spend more than $152 million, predicts e-commerce consulting firm IMRG. The following day, the holiday known as Boxing Day in the United Kingdom, figures to be even busier.

Christmas Day and the day after figure to be busy days for online retailers in the United Kingdom, predicts U.K. e-commerce consulting firm IMRG.

IMRG forecasts that 5.24 million consumers will shop online in the U.K. on Christmas Day, spending £103.6 million (US$152.6 million). That would be a 23% increase from the £84 million spent last year, IMRG says. Online retail sales jumped 44% last year from Christmas Eve to Christmas day, and IMRG predicts a similar shopping spike this year in light of the 15% increase in online sales in the U.K. this holiday shopping season.

“What’s different about this year is the huge growth we’ve seen in the week before Christmas as consumers have left their shopping to the last minute,” says Stuart Rowe, chief operation officer at general merchandise e-retailer Play.com. “If this continues we’ll see significant growth on Christmas day as people spend their Christmas money and gift vouchers.”

The day after Christmas, the Boxing Day holiday in the U.K., was the biggest online shopping day of the year last year, and followed a shopping surge on Christmas Day 2007, says Robin Goad, research director of the UK arm of web measurement firm Hitwise. “Given the current hunger for bargains, it seems likely that both days will be even busier this year,” Goad says.

The days following Christmas are typically busy, too, for eBay, as consumers put unwanted Christmas gifts up for sale. “Typically, 27th December sees the single biggest spike in consumer listings on eBay in the post-Christmas period,” says a spokeswoman for eBay in the U.K. “We estimate that on that day last year around 2 million unwanted Christmas gifts were listed for sale on the site.”

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