January 10, 2012, 11:16 AM

Most U.K consumers go online to buy holiday gifts

An IMRG survey also shows a significant role for smartphones in holiday shopping.

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71% of consumers in the United Kingdom went online late last year to buy holiday gifts, up 1.3 percentage points from the 2010 holiday shopping season, according to new figures from IMRG, a U.K. trade group for online retailers, and eDigitalResearch, a research firm. The organizations based their findings on surveys of 2,000 consumers conducted between Dec. 28 and Dec. 30.

The survey results also show that 50% of respondents do most of their Christmas shopping online. Additionally, 18% of the respondents with smartphones reported using their mobile device for Christmas shopping. Of those smartphone owners, nearly 30% said they did used the devices to complete up to half of their product and pricing research.

The survey also suggests that more consumers are going online on Christmas and Boxing Day, a holiday in the U.K. on the day after Christmas. 86% of respondents went online those days, up one percentage point from 2010, IMRG and eDigitalResearch  say.  45% of those consumers logged into social media sites, up from nearly 21% last year. Additionally, 8% of respondents used tablet computers to get online during those two days, double the rate reported in 2010.

“We can see that the Internet is now a crucial part of everyday consumer life. Many see logging on during Christmas and Boxing Day as the norm, especially when trying out new gadgets and Christmas gifts,” says Derek Eccleston, head of research at eDigitalResearch. “The rise in tablet use and social media sites is an indication for retailers what’s to come in 2012 and it’s important to optimize shopping and browsing use across all available channels in order to boost income and customer loyalty.”

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