Irish consumers plan to spend an average of €227 each online this Christmas, according to Visa Europe, adding up to €420m in online sales. The news will send a chill rather than season’s greetings to the myriad of recession-weary high street retailers who have failed to embrace the internet and have no e-commerce plan whatsoever.
Across Europe, Monday, 10 December – dubbed ‘Mega Monday’ – will be the busiest online shopping day so far in Europe as Europeans will spend €565m making 10m transactions.
“This Christmas we expect a new record to be set, thanks to a combination of a continued rise in internet usage, an improvement in consumer sentiment and the security features associated with Visa cards,” Conor Langford, vice-president, Visa Ireland, said.
“With Irish consumers now using a multitude of devices, such as smartphones and tablets to buy from the internet, people are more comfortable than ever shopping online. In fact by 2020, we expect half of all Visa transactions to be made on a mobile device.”
“We would remind shoppers to make sure that they place their orders early to ensure that they receive their goods on time.”
Visa Europe’s processing platform is predicted to handle around 7,000 transactions every minute as consumers across Europe seek out this Christmas’ must-have presents and attempt to benefit from online bargains and beat the Christmas shopping crowds.
More than €1 in every €8 spent in Ireland in 2011 was on a Visa card, making Visa Europe’s data one of the most reliable indicators of trends in consumer spending.
What digital economy?
However, recession-hit high-street retailers and traditional businesses are unlikely to share in the dizzy online Christmas cheer as they await the impact of an economy-crippling austerity budget. Unlike their UK counterparts, traditional Irish SMEs have failed to pay attention to the rise of the digital economy and less than 21pc of Irish businesses have e-commerce transaction capabilities on their websites.
Again this is another area where the State and the banks have failed to help boost the local economy and a serious amount of education and encouragement is needed if local businesses are to reap the rewards..
However, this isn’t a patch on the UK economy, which in 2012 can already claim more than 8pc of its GDP comes from the internet economy.
According to a different report from Boston Consulting Group, the UK’s internet economy will represent 12.4pc of GDP by 2016. In 2010, the internet economy represented 8.3pc of the UK’s GDP – making it the G20’s most web-dependent country.
According to the Amarach report, online shoppers in Ireland will spend €3.7bn in 2012, rising to €5.7bn (equalling 7pc of all consumer spending) by 2016.
The report estimates this can translate into increased employment of 18,000 jobs or more if Irish society can keep pace with the digitisation levels of UK or Scandinavian counterparts.