While sales usually traditionally start on Boxing day, some of the internet’s biggest retailers have brought theirs forward in a bid to steal a march on their rivals.
And, although lots of us still reserve Christmas Day as a time for family and friends, millions are expected to shop online during festivities.
In fact, internet retailers are predicting that this year will be a record one for people shopping on Christmas Day. A staggering 82 million website visits are predicted, up by nearly a third on last year’s figures. And online spending is also predicted to hit a record high of more than £300 million.
They are figures well in excess of those expected to attend Christmas Day church services, with 2.3 million people due to listen to a sermon or take Midnight Mass.
Popular purchases are due to be downloads of movies, e-books, games and music as lucky recipients of the likes of Amazon’s Kindle or Apple’s iPad open their gifts and then head online to buy something they can read, watch or listen to.
Andrew McClelland, who is managing director at the Interactive Media in Retail Group, said: “The post-Christmas sales period actually starts on Christmas Eve online and, judging by these forecasts, it certainly finds a willing audience.”
And Xavier Garambois from Amazon agreed that: “Many customers are shopping on Christmas Day in a way that has previously only been seen in the retail industry on Boxing Day.”
He said what he described as the “digital revolution” had played a big part in the sales growth, with Christmas Day now the “biggest day of the year for MP3 and Kindle Book downloads as many people are buying content from new devices that they have just received.”
Amazon has a “Boxing Day deals week,” which actually begins on the 25th, not the 26th. Deals include the Panasonic Lumix TZ20 Digital camera, which is down to £183.89 from £369.99.
And, to entice consumers throughout Christmas Day, there will be Lightening Deals, or limited offers at certain times during the day.
John Lewis is another retailer starting its online sale earlier. The sale starts on its website on Christmas Eve, with the in-store sale starting on December 27th. And WHSmith is promoting its sale, with up to 75 per cent off electronics and computing. The store mainly has computing accessories on sale, such as Lexmark 20 Tri Colour Printer ink for £5 rather than £35.
And other chains getting in early include Currys, PC World, Marks & Spencer, Argos and House of Fraser.
But, while bargain hunters will be delighted at the extra opportunity to track down a well-priced item, critics have condemned the move towards making shopping a 365-days-a-year activity.
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey said: “Christmas Day is a time to be together with the family, to focus on the children and to have a great time together.
“This day is precious. We are now in danger of the gadgets taking over our lives and we are not in control of them.”