A manic Monday Christmas cyber shopping spree

We spend record €6bn online in 2014 as An Post delivers an avalanche of 8m items a day

Joyce Fegan

Get ready for a manic Monday in cyberspace. The busiest and most frenetic day of the year for Irish online shopping is just 24 hours away.

Startling new figures reveal we have embraced one-click shopping - spending a massive €6bn online this year.

That's up an astonishing 44pc on 2013, according to the Irish Digital Consumer Report.

And most of that cash will be spent by electronic transfer on credit and debit cards in the run-up to Christmas as renewed consumer confidence leads to a surge in spending, an e-commerce survey by Wolfgang Digital shows.

The online bonanza means a massive boost for An Post and a heavy postbag for delivery staff.

Postmen and women will deliver eight million items of post a day in the last two weeks before Christmas, An Post communications chief Anna McHugh has revealed.

"On a normal working day we handle over 2.5m items but this November we'd be well over 3m to 3.5m a day as online shopping gathers momentum. Between December 10 and Christmas Eve an avalanche of 7m to 8m items a day will be delivered," she said.

An Post has enjoyed growth of almost 50pc in the number of parcels and packages it has delivered in the last two years - all down to people shopping online.

And tomorrow, known as Cyber Monday, our online transactions will reach their annual peak following Friday's bonanza on the High Street when shoppers spent an astonishing €37m.

"Monday is key. Consumers "window shop" in store on Saturday and Sunday and they complete the transaction online on Monday," Denis Cody, MD of Online Shopping Ireland explained.

"I know from my own site which stretches across 60-plus retailers that sales have doubled this November compared with 12 months ago," Mr Cody said.

McElhinneys of Donegal, which employs 180 people, has enjoyed an enormous online boom.

"Online is up 157pc this month compared with 2013," said Roisin Woods, head of marketing and e-commerce.

Avoca, the trendy upmarket food, fashion and giftware emporium is up 40pc year-on-year online, Avoca's managing director Simon Pratt told the Sunday Independent.

But the online phenomenon is working both ways. Some shoppers browse online, check availability, but then buy in-store.

A Bank of Ireland survey released last week showed that 75pc of people will do most of their Christmas shopping in the traditional way after checking out websites first.

Just 23pc plan to split their purchases between the high street and direct online purchasing.

McElhinneys discovered that 70pc of their customers, shopping specifically for occasion wear for weddings or debs, looked online first before visiting the shop. Some 97pc of those visits led to a sale.

Google Ireland told the Sunday Independent that 61pc of Irish people researched online before buying.

Their analysis shows 71pc of those who trawled the web seeking a home appliance made the purchase in a store.

And 33pc of those who researched clothes online actually went to the shop to "try on" and then buy.

Irish people are "incredibly savvy" when it comes to online shopping compared with our European counterparts, Google say.

Smyths Toys marketing chief Dryden Geary says: "I think the biggest trend we're seeing in Ireland is people looking at the product on the web in the morning and then dropping into a store later that day to actually buy it."

Last year, Smyths Toys enjoyed a 100pc sales increase on its website during the Christmas period.

Joan Mulvihill, CEO of the Irish Internet Association (IIA), said: "Shopping online makes a lot of sense because although you have to pay for postage, that may be a lot less than the cost of parking your car in town all day," Ms Mulvihill told the Sunday Independent.