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Online retailers braced for rush

Online retailers are braced for their busiest day of the year as consumers take part in the annual pre-Christmas shopping spree dubbed Cyber Monday.

Recent years have seen online shopping figures consistently peaking on the first Monday in December, probably because many UK consumers have received their last pay cheque before Christmas.

Visa Europe predicts 320 million will be spent on its cards alone as online transactions top 6.8 million, an increase of 21% on last year, making December 3 this year the busiest online shopping day in history.

It said: "A combination of pay day for the majority of consumers falling on the last Friday of the month and a weekend spent browsing the shops results in shoppers logging on to buy their gifts online on the subsequent Monday.

"All of these factors will result in consumers spending 222,222 per minute, making 4,722 transactions every 60 seconds."

This month will also see more than 11 billion withdrawn from cash machines, equating to more than 41,000 per second in the pre-Christmas peak.

Sainsbury's Bank predicts a 1.3% rise in cash withdrawals compared with December last year to reach a total of 11.1 billion, due to an increased number of ATMs across the country, resulting in increased accessibility.

Friday December 21 is expected to be the busiest day for cash withdrawals, as it is traditionally when shoppers rush to buy last-minute gifts, while this Monday could give online retailers boosts of up to 70%.

Visa Europe commercial director Dr Steve Perry said: "On Mega Monday, people across the UK will go online and use their Visa cards to make 6.8 million transactions, the most in a single day in UK history. That's 21% more than in 2011, signalling that consumers are becoming increasingly accustomed to the advantages of shopping online for everyday purchases and special items, especially in the lead-up to Christmas."

Amazon.co.uk also predicts Cyber Monday to be its biggest single day, with orders set to peak at 9.20pm.

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