Cyber Monday: UK braces for what could be busiest online shopping day in history

Metropolitan Police issue checklist of advice for people to stay safe while buying on the internet

Online retailers and card companies are flexing their muscles this morning ahead of what some have said could be the busiest day for internet shopping in history.

Traditionally an American phenomenon, Cyber Monday has taken the world by storm, as consumers flock to the web in search of a festive bargain.

Already this year, Barclaycard reported online shopping is up more than 10 per cent compared to 2012, and credit card firm Visa has predicted today will beat last year’s Cyber Monday by a staggering 16 per cent. The company anticipated £450 million would be spent on its cards alone in more than 7.7 million online transactions.

Internet shopping figures have regularly peaked on the first Monday of December. In the US, the boom has been attributed to workers using their office computers on the first day back after Thanksgiving holidays.

Staying safe on Cyber Monday: Met Police issue top 10 tips to avoid online fraud

On this side of the Atlantic, Cyber Monday is thought to arise following the last payday before Christmas and with consumers having spent the weekend browsing for gifts in shops before buying online.

While John Lewis said it expects 80,000 orders today, online-only retailer Amazon is unsurprisingly set to be busiest. The company told BBC News it sold 41 items per second last year, coming to around 3.5 million orders in total, and expects to beat that this year.

Xavier Garambois, vice president of EU retail at Amazon, told the broadcaster that Cyber Monday has “continued to grow every year”.

Visa Europe’s Jeremy Nicholds, director of commercial development, said: “Online shopping now accounts for more than 25 per cent of spend with Visa in the UK, signifying the confidence that consumers have in the security of online payments and in the delivery of goods.

“With an average of £312,500 expected to be spent online every minute on 2 December, the Christmas shopping season will certainly start with a bang.”

Royal Mail said that residents of Colchester have been out-clicking other towns for Christmas presents this year. Lincoln, Brighton, Swansea and Stockton-on-Tees are also among the top 10 UK towns and cities shopping for gifts from the comfort of their own homes.

The Metropolitan Police meanwhile urged internet Christmas shoppers to exercise caution when making their purchases to avoid falling victim to fraudsters and its new Cyber Crime Unit has put together a check-list for people buying on the web.

Detective Chief Inspector Jason Tunn said: “These are simple tips to keep safe while you shop online for your gifts for friends and family.

“The last thing anyone needs is for their details to be compromised by cyber criminals and online fraudsters - especially during the Christmas period.

“Hopefully these safeguards are easy to follow and can be implemented even by those with limited computer skills.”

Police advise using anti-virus software, avoiding links sent out by spam or phishing emails, and using a credit card instead of a debit card because they may offer increased protection.

The busiest shopping day on the high street often falls two days before Christmas Day, with Monday 23 December and Tuesday 24 December expected to draw peak numbers of shoppers this year.

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