Record online shopping figures
This year's Cyber Monday - the biggest annual day in the online shopping calendar - is expected to see more people than ever before flock to internet retailers to buy Christmas presents.
A report by retail association Interactive Media In Retail Group (IMRG) predicted that consumers will spend £7.75bn online during December, with many of them starting today, spending an average of £300,000 a minute.
On 29 November 2010, last year's Cyber Monday, high street catalogue chain Argos received 1.7m visits to its website, resulting in 20,000 website orders.
Employers are anticipating an impact on productivity as many people take advantage of their computers at work to snap up deals and begin their Christmas shopping.
It is also bad news for the high street, as people choose the warmth, speed and ease of internet purchases over trudging through the crowds in wintry conditions. Figures from the Office Of National Statistics (ONS) state that online sales generally constitute 10 per cent of total retail sales.
Perfect storm of consumer activity
The name 'Cyber Monday' emerged in 2005, when retail association Shop.org reported the surge in web sales following the US holiday of Thanksgiving, as people rushed to complete their gift lists after a weekend of traditional high street shopping.
But the phenomenon quickly extended beyond US shores, with the convenience of online shopping and the need to order presents in significant advance of Christmas combining to create a perfect storm of consumer activity. In the UK it is often also known as Manic Monday.
In related news, a US survey by Shop.org has revealed that mobile devices will play a much bigger part than in previous years. Around 14.5 per cent per cent of Americans said they would use their smartphones or similar tools to shop - a huge increase on 3.8 per cent just two years ago.
Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "Cyber Monday, or Manic Monday, is a time of urgency for consumers as they realise how close Christmas is getting and dive into their online shopping - often at the expense of their work.
"This is great news for online retailers, who are wise to grasp the opportunity to advertise deals on the internet and via mobile devices. These may also attract buyers into high street shops."