UK shoppers set to spend more than £3bn by Cyber
British shoppers are expected to have spent more than £3bn by the time Cyber Monday ends, after the American phenomenon of Black Friday led to an online sales surge.
The retail giant Amazon reported its biggest sales day ever in the UK, with more than 6m items ordered on Friday.
While the predicted repeat of last year’s in-store chaos failed to materialise, analysts have forecast that the flood of online customers could lead to a total four-day spend of £3.2bn.
The sales weekend now looks to be moving towards a four-week sales season all the way to Christmas, one expert said.
Jon Copestake, of the Economist Intelligence Unit, told the Daily Telegraph: “What we are starting to see is Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Super Saturday all roll into one in a sales season that lasts several weeks in the run-up to Christmas.”
Some companies struggled to keep their websites operating on Black Friday, traditionally held to coincide with the end of Thanksgiving in the US, as huge numbers of people logged on to try to get the best deals.
The John Lewis website crashed at around 3.20pm. When one customer phoned to confirm an order that had been lost online they were told the retailer was unable to take any orders and to call back in an hour.
Shoppers using the Argos website also experienced delays and consumers were confronted with a holding page saying “Oops … Sorry to hold you up”. Page load times for the site exceeded 10 seconds, compared with 0.5 seconds on its competitor Amazon, and beyond the two-second threshold that some analysts say makes consumers impatient and more likely to give up on a purchase.
Multiple errors on the Tesco website were reported, and between 10am and 11am the website slowed to an 8.4s page-load time. The supermarket chain denied anything was wrong, saying on Twitter: “Our website is fully operational. We’re very happy with our site speed. Feedback from customers today has been very positive.”
Other retailers singled out on social media for slow websites included the fashion hub Boohoo, Boots, River Island and Debenhams.
The popularity of online shopping did not appear to be matched on the high street and in supermarkets where there were no signs of the huge crowds that gathered on Black Friday last year, or the scuffles that broke out as customers fought over big-ticket items.