At a glance, let’s have a look at some of the key Christmas trends of recent years which marketers and e-retailers might be worth bearing in mind in the lead up to the 25th.

Nearly all UK shoppers will buy online, and many will buy via mobile

Countless analysts are making their predictions about how many of us will be buying festive gifts online. With their eye on the UK market, eDigitalResearch and IMRG asked 2,000 online consumers about their prospective Christmas shopping plans, with 96% saying they will shop online at some point during the season.

Using this as a reflection of the UK (online) population, it’s reasonable to expect that nearly 43m will make at least one Christmas purchase online. 48% (more than 21m) are expected to buy at least half of their seasonal shopping on the internet.

Additionally, mobile has been a significant channel for buying gifts at this time of year for some time. This looks set to continue in 2013, as 44% (more than 13m people) of UK smartphone owners say they will consider making Christmas purchases via their device.

Christmas conversions remain highest on desktops

With mobiles, tablets and desktops increasingly becoming incorporated into the Christmas shopping mix, it is important for marketers and retailers to understand how conversion rates can vary across channels and fluctuate significantly during the holiday period.

In February, US-based online customer specialists Monetate published data looking at conversion rates across channels and at specific points during the season, comparing 2012 trends to 2011.

As would be expected, rates were highest on Cyber Monday – the busiest ecommerce day of the year – with desktop conversions hitting 8.22% in 2012.

Tablet conversion rates reached 6.31% during Cyber Monday 2012 and although both mobile and tablet conversions look to be increasing year-over-year, desktops are seeing just slightly bigger growth – up 1.17% between CM 2011 and CM 2012.

Average order values decrease as more shop online

With more people shopping online and via mobile for Christmas, one might jump to the conclusion that we’re spending more.

New research published by IBM, however, shows average UK Christmas order values are a little less predictable than that. While November order values grew by 17% between 2011 (£106.15) and 2012 (£124.22), December order values dropped by 8.6% reaching £99.59 in December 2012.

With that in mind, it is worth noting that overall spending did increase – by 16.4% between December 2011 and December 2012.

Take-aways for Christmas 2013

  • We can expect most UK internet users to make a purchase online and around half of those to buy around 50% of all their presents from their desktops, tablets or smartphones.
  • Conversion rates look set to increase across platforms, but many are still most likely to convert via desktop – though that’s not to say mobile isn’t a significant part of the purchase journey.
  • Overall Christmas online spend looks set to increase, but it is likely average order values may not.

It will be interesting to see whether these trends will continue. For example, with ever-improving mobile-commerce facilities could we see tablet and smartphone conversion rates start to gain ground on desktops? Additionally, could average order values increase as confidence in ecommerce and m-commerce continues to improve.

Keep your eye on the Internet Statistics Compendium as we continue to update in December and January, and perhaps we’ll see some surprises.