Christmas shopping by numbers

By Tim Bowler
Business reporter, BBC News

image copyrightGetty Images

As we rush out to the shops to take advantage of continuing Black Friday discounts, or go online for Cyber Monday deals, UK shoppers are expected to have spent around £2bn - up 30% on last year.

We're spending more than ever online, choosing to shop via the internet and eschewing the seasonal High Street struggle to find that perfect present - or at least something that won't need to be returned in the New Year.

Here are the most striking of this year's seasonal shopping figures:

And online spending is expected to carry on rising in the coming years as well, forming a greater proportion of all our shopping.

Consumers move online


Forecast growth in online retail spending over the next five years

  • £62.7bn Estimated online spending by 2020

  • 17.1% of retail sales will be online by 2020 - up from 13.8% now

Getty Images

As the value of what we spend online goes up, so do the number of orders and parcels. And all this shopping is heavily skewed towards the Christmas shopping season, with almost one in four of the year's online orders being placed in November and December.

One result of this is that there are more delivery vans than ever before on UK roads.

The number of miles driven by vans and light trucks has soared by 70.4% over the past 20 years, according to the Department of Transport; far outstripping the growth in cars and heavy goods vehicles - up 14% and 2.9% since 1995, respectively.

The rise of the van

More deliveries


New vans registered in the UK in 2015

46.9bn miles

Distance covered by van drivers in 2015

  • Since 1995 this mileage has risen by 70%


There is some evidence that shoppers actually slow down their shopping ahead of the discount period. This then creates a spike in shopping - what some have called an "online tsunami".

Last year UK retailers and logistics firms were taken by surprise by this. There were delays and bottlenecks and lots of disgruntled online customers.

This year firms have been making significant investments to deal with the online rush - DPD, for example, has opened a new £100m "super hub" in Leicestershire. And all have been taking on more staff.

But despite the headlines and the seemingly impressive sale numbers, it is worth bearing in mind that for retailers, turnover by itself does not necessarily translate into profits.

And if you are all distinctly unimpressed by it all - then you are not alone.

A recent survey of online shoppers by eDigitalResearch and IMRG found that while 31% of shoppers either "like" or "love" major discount events such as Black Friday, a further 30% "don't like" or "hate" them. The other 39% were unsure.

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