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Almost half of festive shoppers do most or all of their shopping online, with UK festive online shopping spend up 11% YOY, according to research commissioned by Royal Mail. Three quarters of online shoppers start making Christmas purchases in November. But 5% leave it to the week before 25 December.

Online shoppers’ most popular purchases are clothes (56%), books (44%), toys (44%), toiletries/make-up (39%) and CDs/DVDs/records/computer games (36%). The average gift costs £46, up from £42 the previous year, and the average number of gifts purchased online at Christmas is seven.

The research also revealed that men spend on average £348, compared to women’s spend of £300. 18-24 year olds are more likely to have bought gifts for themselves than any other age group. A third (33%) of festive online shoppers bought more gifts online in 2018 than 2017.

The main reasons people choose to shop online at Christmas are convenience-related: being able to shop from the comfort of their home, the ability to shop any time of the day and the ease of comparing prices.

Around one in ten online shoppers returned items last Christmas. Women are twice as likely to make Christmas returns than men.

A spokesperson for Royal Mail said “Festive online shopping is becoming increasingly popular each year, especially due to the convenience and ease of making purchases from the comfort of home. At Royal Mail, we are here to help consumers and businesses prepare for their Christmas deliveries wherever they are in the UK.”