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E-commerce sites take the strain during festive rush

31 December 2012 - 10:24 by Graham Miller

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An unprecedented surge in the number of UK consumers carrying out safe shopping online over the Christmas break left several major retailers reeling, according to the Daily Mail.

Selfridges saw its website crash under the weight of visitors attempting to seek out a bargain, as the sales period began in earnest, with other companies experiencing similar problems as a result of our web-savvy shopping habits.

In all, it is expected that about 1 billion was spent between the 24th and the 26th of December this year, in part because retailers were cutting prices by significant margins and offering customers up to 70 per cent off the original RRP.

John Lewis reported that its sales and visitor numbers had increased by 40 per cent, year on year, when it came to safe shopping online, although it was better prepared for the spike and its website held up under the pressure.

The biggest bargains were unsurprisingly also the quickest to sell out, with some products being snapped up in less than 30 minutes after a major price reduction.

This is possible because people now use social media in order to tell friends, family and followers about the deals they encounter, which can inevitably lead to e-commerce sites struggling to cope with the sudden influx of visitors.

Amazon was similarly inundated with consumers looking for low priced products, with sales up by over 250 per cent when compared with the same period in 2007.

Some retailers are choosing to exploit the interest in e-commerce by creating time-sensitive flash sales, in which certain items are sold incredibly cheaply for a limited period.

Others are taking a more traditional approach to discounts, although the main thing which becomes clear in all of this is that the high street will struggle to keep up.