Actinic Survey of Ecommerce Christmas Sales Shows 2009 Ended on a High Note

A survey conducted by ecommerce specialist Actinic has backed up positive predictions for prosperous online Christmas trading for 2009.

In Actinic’s seventh annual Christmas poll of small and medium enterprises (SME) selling online, {{respondents reported an average 51% increase in order volume for November and December 2009 compared with 2008 figures}}.

The average turnover figures were also positive with a 42% increase in revenue on 2008 though growth had slowed compared to last year’s 48% over 2008. This trend highlights the increasing price sensitivity as shoppers continue to compare prices and seek out bargains. Sean McMenemy from suggested, “In tough times, don’t cut back on advertising and marketing, potential customers shop around more during hard times, so don’t miss this opportunity.”

Nick Kington, managing director at Actinic commented, “This is another impressive performance by online sellers in the SME market with many Actinic customers weathering the economic climate and reporting healthy increases in both order volumes and revenue. Some of December’s larger value item purchases might be attributed to customers wanting to benefit from the 15% VAT rate before its return to 17.5% this month. Only time will tell either way.”

The research also highlighted shoppers were leaving their purchasing decisions until as late as possible with the busiest purchasing period being the first two weeks in December in comparison to the last week in November as experienced in 2008.

Mark Lowery of Lomo Watersport ( a Glasgow-based manufacturer of wetsuits and watersports equipment commented, “We have noticed that in 2009 people are more confident with ordering later in the Christmas period and still having it delivered in time. Last year orders started to tail off around the end of the second week in December. This year the reduction was a whole week later. Courier services are becoming more ecommerce oriented and people are now no longer surprised when their goods turn up next day…. They expect it!”

Tips from web retailers

When asked what their top tips were for making the most from their online store in tough times the overall consensus for a successful Christmas trading was summarised by Darren Beaumont from “Keep your site clean, simple and most of all provide clear information on deliveries, payments and contact details.”

Darren Guppy of added, “If business is slow use the time to work on the site design, adding unique content and making improvements to product details and descriptions to make them more SEO friendly, so when the economic climate improves you are better positioned to make the most of it.”

Other web retailers recommended specialising in a niche and focusing on your SEO performance. David Sewell from is an example of this tactic: “We sell fabric, threads and haberdashery. We had an order for some of our threads from a Russian model maker to use in the rigging of very accurate model ships. And we also had an order from English Heritage who wanted some of our products to help conserve valuable books from flood damage.”

Not cutting back on marketing, especially to existing customers, is a popular tip. For example, Richard Phillips of suggested, “Keep customers interested. Market to them with coupon codes and offers.”

And of course offering service that goes the extra mile is a big winner with customers as this story from Peter Urwin of shows. “On Friday 18th December we received an order from Scotland for a print which is warehoused in USA and is needed in time to get it framed and delivered for Christmas. So it must be delivered by 22nd. As luck would have it the artist’s wife was in the USA and travelling the next day to – guess where – Edinburgh. She took the print with her and the customer had it in time.”

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