If the streets seem a little quieter than normal on Monday 3 December it’ll be because everyone is busy ordering Christmas presents online.
Amazon.co.uk's statistics boffins predict that this day – known as “Cyber Monday” – will be the UK’s busiest of the year for internet sales, with orders set to peak at 9.20pm.
And it's possible this will be the popular online retailer’s busiest ever day in the UK.
Amazon says that it expects J K Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, Prometheus on DVD, Mumford and Sons' new album Babel, e-reader Kindle and Hunter fleece welly socks to among the best-sellers.
Perhaps surprisingly, the week of 3 November won’t be the busiest for online sales – that will be the week of 19 November, when Amazon launches “Black Friday Deals Week” for the third year.
For a few days customers are lured to their computer keyboards by huge discounts and deals.
Last year’s Cyber Monday was 5 December, when Amazon.co.uk received orders for more than 3 million items, a rate of around 35 items ordered per second over the 24 hour period.
On average, at its peak, a delivery truck was leaving an Amazon UK packaging warehouse once every 2 minutes and 45 seconds.
“As people increasingly shop on mobile devices and benefit from fast broadband at home, we’re seeing a move towards customers buying their Christmas gifts later in the evening when they are at home relaxing,” said Christopher North, Managing Director of Amazon.co.uk.
“Monday 3 December could be the busiest day in the history of Amazon.co.uk, and we’re preparing for it by hiring more than 10,000 seasonal employees across our eight UK fulfilment centres.”
The Black Friday Deals Week, meanwhile, is actually a retailing extravaganza that has its origins across the pond.
Every year, towards the end of November, millions of shoppers take advantage of the massive savings offered by retailers around “Black Friday”, the discount shopping day that follows Thanksgiving.
It signals the start of the Christmas shopping period in the US and it was reported that over $52.4bn (£32billion) was spent by shoppers in America over ”Black Friday” weekend in 2011.
Sensing an opportunity to cash in on the concept, Amazon introduced Black Friday Deals Week in Britain in 2010.
Last year, deals during this week included 55% off a Samsung 50in HD Television and 70% off a LoveFilm subscription.
Bargain hunters should www.amazon.co.uk/blackfriday for more details.
In August 2012 the estimated average weekly spend online was £466.1 million, according to the Office of National Statistics, with online shopping representing 8.1 per cent of all retail spending.