Christmas is traditionally a time when we meet up with our families to share gifts and overindulge on food and drink. 

But new data shows it’s also increasingly becoming a time to go online and indulge in some retail therapy.

Stats from Experian Hitwise show that Christmas 2012 was the busiest ever for online retailers in the UK, with consumers making 84m visits to retail websites on Christmas Eve and 107m visits on Christmas Day.

This is an increase of 86% and 71% respectively compared to 2011.

Amazon came out on top in the battle of the retailers, leapfrogging eBay to become the most visited ecommerce site on Christmas Day with more than 12% of all visits.

However Boxing Day eclipsed the previous two days to become the busiest day ever for online retail. UK consumers spent 14m hours online and made 113m visits to online retail sites, an increase of 17% from 2011.

Experian’s stats show that early discounting was one of the key reasons for the increase in visits online, with one in every 125 searches conducted in the UK including the word ‘sale’ or ‘sales’.

The top sales search term was ‘Next sale’, ‘Debenhams sale’, ‘Marks and Spencer sale’ and ‘John Lewis sale’. Experian’s stats are based on UK internet data from a sample that monitors a quarter of the UK online population.

IBM has also released retail data for Boxing Day which shows that online sales on Boxing Day 2012 increased by 44.95% compared to 2011.

There was also a large increase in mobile traffic with the number of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site reaching 30.72%, up from 19.8% on Boxing Day in 2011.

This tallies with data from Kenshoo which found that smartphones and tablets accounted for more than a quarter (28%) of the clicks on retail paid search ads in the run up to Christmas.

IBM’s data shows that the number of consumers using their mobile device to make a purchase increased to 24.73%, up 15.93% year-on-year. Much of this increase in mobile traffic can be attributed to the iPad, which generated more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone. 

The device accounted for 15.84% of online shopping, an increase of 109% over 2011 on the same day. This was followed by iPhone at 8.63% and Android 6.17%.

IBM’s data comes from its Digital Analytics Benchmark web analytics platform that analyses raw data from 150 retailers it the UK.