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Weather complicates e-commerce forecasts

02 November 2011 - 10:18 by Simon Crisp

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Analysts are struggling to put accurate predictions on how the e-commerce industry will perform over the festive period because of uncertainties about the weather conditions.

IMRG has said that the growth of safe shopping online in the final weeks of 2011 is likely to be around 14 per cent, down slightly from the 25 per cent increase measured during the same period of 2010.

However, the unpredictable nature of the weather, which could include delivery-hampering snow, makes the creation of concrete analysis problematic.

Consumers are thought to be far more aware of the problems snow can cause after last year's particularly harsh winter, during which disruption on the roads was common. This is why analysts believe that people will be getting more of their shopping done earlier, in order to sidestep any elemental problems closer to Christmas.

Online auction site eBay is stating that December 4th will be the busiest day for safe shopping online of 2011, with almost six million users expected to visit its site within a 24 hour period. This is half a million more than did so in 2010.

IMRG agrees with eBay's estimates, saying that the UK will go into a shopping frenzy during the week leading up to December 5th.

At the height of the Christmas rush, about 30 gift items will be bought every single second and 50 per cent more people will be conducting their festive retail activities from their mobile phones, when compared with last year's levels.

It is very difficult to correctly predict whether poor weather conditions will hit the UK this Christmas, which means those tasked with guessing at the growth of e-commerce are faced with an equally tough task. Hopefully, the nation will be better prepared for snowy conditions after learning lessons last year.