The first weekend in December is traditionally one of the busiest online shopping days of the year, as the looming reality of Christmas suddenly comes into focus and consumers feel flush with cash having just been paid.

Ebay predicted that Sunday would be the busiest online shopping day of 2012 and was expecting around 6m visits to its website.

To put this in context, eBay normally receives around 17m unique visitors per month.

And the retailer wasn’t alone in predicting a surge in online shopping over the weekend – Experian Hitwise suggested that Monday would see 115m visits to UK retail websites, an uplift of 36% from 2011.

The first Monday in December last year saw UK consumers make 84.6m visits to online retail sites, with Amazon and eBay attracting 28% of those visits.

On top of that, Visa Europe analysts predicted that 6.8m transactions would take place online on Monday, with shoppers spending £320m on Visa cards alone.

So did these predictions come to fruition? Here’s a run down of some interesting stats from the weekend…

Sales up, but average order value down

Data from IBM shows that online sales on Monday 3 December increased by 15.8% compared to the first Monday in December last year.

While this is impressive, IBM notes that online sales increased by 18% on Monday 26 November compared to the same Monday in 2011.

Also, shoppers spent £100.16 on average per transaction this year, compared to £105.10 last year, while the number of items per order was 3.52 compared to 3.96 per cart last year.

But as we saw with Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the US, one of the key trends is the surge in mobile traffic and sales.

The number of consumers using a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site reached 21.7% of total traffic, up from 12.6% in 2011.

Furthermore, the number of consumers using their mobile device to make a purchase increased to 14.2%, up from 9.7% last year.

And you can probably guess which mobile device generated the most traffic.

According to IBM the iPad accounted for 10.6% of online shopping, an increase of 194.4% over 2011. This was followed by iPhone at 6.9% and Android 4%.

Another interesting stat to note is the low number of sales generated directly from social networks. 

Traffic referrals from the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube accounted for 0.53% of all online sales. This represents a 10.4% increase on last year.

These stats comes from the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark, which analyses e-commerce data from 150 retailers in the UK.

Shoppers spend more on Mega Monday

Data from SaleCycle shows that the average order value (AOV) on Mega Monday was 121% higher than on Monday 26 November.

While this is good news for retailers, the data also shows that the AOV for abandoned sales on Mega Monday was 216% higher than for the average completed sale.

SaleCycle’s data comes from a sample of 300,000 attempted transactions across 200 retailers.

Consumers go mobile

UK online retailers saw a 36% increase in mobile site traffic on Mega Monday compared to last year, according to stats from Usablenet’s mobile platform. Similarly, page views saw a 40% increase compared to 2011.

The data also shows that Apple devices accounted for 78% of mobile traffic compared to 15% on Android, which is quite surprising considering the high proportion of Android smartphones on the market.

Tablets accounted for almost 10% of mobile traffic to Usablenet’s clients.

This data was calculated from a selection of Usablenet’s client mobile sites, which includes retailers such as ASOS, Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, Carphone Warehouse and Topshop.

Amazon has busiest shopping day of the year

Though actual figures are not yet available, Amazon has confirmed that Monday was its busiest shopping day of the year so far.

The e-tailer had prepared for the festive season by employing an extra 10,000 workers, while M&S has recruited an additional 800 employees at its distribution centres and doubled the number of employees working in its e-commerce call centre.