More and more Christmas shoppers find their gifts online.
The very fact that November this year was the best month in history for group-buying website Cobone indicates that online Christmas shopping is bigger than ever.
"We experienced a more than expected increase in sales compared to Christmas last year," says Paul Kenny, Cobone's CEO. "Compared to the same time last year sales went up with 120 per cent."
In November and December group-buying websites significantly increase their offers online; and online buyers eagerly click away without having to leave their house.
Mother of one, Dubai-based Claire Dantoft logged on this Christmas season to troll through the online deals and save herself the trip to the local malls.
“After a long day at work, the last thing anyone wants to do is bundle up a cranky baby and drive into the Christmas madness for cart of full of gifts that will probably end in tears – mother or child, you pick one,” she said.
“Back in the UK it is pretty normal to even have the groceries delivered to the doorstep, so a gift in post is not a big deal really,” she added.
On its website Cobone offers the 'buy-as-a-gift option', where the price tag will be removed from the item delivered. In the month of November this option alone accounted for an increase in sales of around 500 per cent compared to
the previous month, tells Paul.
"It is another way of shopping. People find better deals and more variety online."
According to Paul people will always go to the shopping mall, but they will search online too.
"Some people go to the malls to write down the prices of items they want. Then they search online to see if there are any deals offering discount on those items."
Dantoft said she sifted through quite a few deals on many of the online group buying discounts these past few weeks, and was able to find “just the thing for my husband, the baby and my in-laws, without leaving the couch.”
The UK national isn’t alone in her ‘couchshopping’, with Pearl D’Costa, a Dubai-based executive saying: “I can’t say I did my entire Christmas shopping from the comfort of my sofa, but I did manage to find a few knick knacks as stock fillers.
“Plus, my friends and I were planning a Christmas, pre New Year’s Eve brunch and we nabbed a pretty good deal on Yallabanana.com aboard a luxury yacht. These are hardly the kind of stuff you could snap up at a mall.”
However, not everyone is convinced that online discount deals work for them.
BC from South Africa says: "I would not miss out on going to the mall around Christmas time. It has become a destination.
"It gives you the festive feeling. There is the beautifully decorated Christmas tree, Santa Claus; it is a form of entertainment. It is the place where you really feel that it is Christmas," she says.
Charles Smolski from Denmark agrees: “As much as I hate shopping, Christmas is the one time of the year I do make an effort to hit the malls. Surely, I can put aside my own trepidations for the woman I love.
“Plus, when you are someone like me who never has a definite plan of what to buy as a gift, the malls are a great place to pick up ideas, chat with staff who can suggest better options.
“I guess I am one of those few who need the personal shopping experience.”
Indeed the more personal gifts are still sought after in the malls. According to Paul it is mostly gadgets and electronic items that are purchased online, as well as diamonds and jewelry.
BC adds: "If I know what I want to buy I definitely search online for this. It is very convenient and sometimes much cheaper. But if I am looking for a personalized gift, I still go to the mall."