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Times are still tough but don't tell that to online shoppers, who are apparently buying more items and spending more on orders.

That's according to Coremetrics, which announced the results of a Benchmark Survey that looked at the sales of 150 top online retailers in the UK in the two weeks leading up to December 7.

The survey found that shoppers spent a whopping 94% more on each online order during this time when compared to 2008. And they purchased more goods -- and average of 3.7 items per order, up from 2.7 in 2007.

According to Coremetrics VP Richard Sheppard, consumers are feeling better about the economy, and they're using the internet to find the best deals:

What is interesting about this year's benchmark data is how UK consumers are clearly feeling much more optimistic about the economy than last year, with the average value of an order up 94 percent in just twelve months.  The recession has had a huge impact on online sales, but the Benchmark figures demonstrate that more shoppers than ever are going online in search of great deals.

Interestingly, things may not be as rosy across the pond. In the US, Coremetrics has tracked a more modest 6% gain year-over-year in online retail sales from December 1 to December 14. Following this year's Cyber Monday, average order value fell 6.7%, and items per purchase rose only 2%. According to John Squire, Coremetrics' Chief Strategy Officer:

... sales seem to have peaked on Cyber Monday, largely due to the aggressive and extremely attractive promotions and special offers that many retailers offered early in the season. Consumers seem to have done the bulk of their shopping earlier than in past seasons and we anticipate that sales will stay largely flat through the rest of December as shoppers focus on last-minute gifts and not on big-ticket items.

Obviously, the comparison between US and UK data isn't apples-to-apples, as the time periods looked at are different, and the number of US online retailers tracked by Coremetrics Benchmark -- 500 -- is larger than the UK sample which showed astounding growth.

Even so, this is interesting data. What does it all mean? My perspective:

  • It's not surprising that there has been improvement after the retail disaster known as 2008. In the UK, if you skip 2008 and go back to 2007, the growth in average order value this year was 54%.
  • Consumers are consuming, but they're not being conspicuous.
  • There's probably a lot of variability amongst the results seen by individual online retailers; more so than in the past because the economy has impacted many retailers in very different ways.

The real question: what happens once the holiday season is over? This holiday season may prove to be tolerable. But if retailers have to wait another year for a big reprieve, there will be more than a few New Year's hangovers.

Photo credit: wearitdotcom via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 17 December, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2419 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

hiya, Patricio,

sad but I think it's tough to draw any strong conclusions from the data they've given in the press release.

  • AOV change for the UK is given for a 2-week period. AOV change for the US is given for a 1-day period. So not very meaningful to compare.
  • AOVs are given, but not # orders, so tough to say by how much spending or buying have gone up.
  • The 2-week period is very short & we don't know what happened before that. Were people sandbagging their orders, or have they spent more across the whole period?
  • We don't know which retailers have dropped in/out over the period. eg, if a big clothing retailer had dropped out (where average items per order is low) & a big supermarket had dropped in (where average items per order is huge) that would skew things.

Hopefully they'll publish a full table with a few more numbers & details.


almost 7 years ago


Flamex Marketing

I believe this will and has been a better year generally and for Online retailers and maybe the optimism this holiday season is a sign of coming towards the last hurdles of the recession.

Though, financial future predictions of online spending may need to be altered due to the scale of the financial deficit in the UK. But out of all businesses, Online businesses will be best off, If more consumers are becoming web savvy, and actually using the web to purchase products at cheaper prices.   

The recovery is going to take a while, any signs of improvement will be great, but businesses will need to keep check of borrowings & cash flow, managing risks more responsibly and investing more in measuring ROI.

almost 7 years ago

Mike Stenger

Mike Stenger, MikeStenger.com

Amazon crushed it last holiday season and I see them to possibly do it again. Even with the economic downturn that's been going on, people are still buying somewhat and that's why there's such a surge online. You can find products a lot cheaper than retail if you look around and when some businesses factor in the free shipping deal when you order so much (I mean you're probably buying many things for the holidays anyway), it's really a no brainer. As far as after the holidays, it'll be pretty easy to tell. Those who've been sucking this year are probably going to suck this next year. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Change your thinking and see what's working, then reposition yourself in a unique and different way and do those things.

almost 7 years ago



At TheGiftCardCentre.co.uk we're seeing orders and revenue up significantly over the same period in 2008. We feel this is due to an improving economy, a trend towards giving gift cards instead of traditional gifts, and the rise in online shopping. Average order value and average loaded value per card remains consistent with 2008. Our top gift cards are iTunes, WHSmith, Comet, Ticketmaster, Pizza Express, Cineworld and Argos. Sainsbury's is also strong, and we see a trend towards gift cards for experiences like cinema and dining out, and also for general purpose practical items.

almost 7 years ago


chinese wholesalers

the comparison between US and UK data isn't apples-to-apples, as the time periods looked at are different

almost 7 years ago

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