Lately we’ve been shopping online after dark more than ever before – between the hours of 11pm and 5am to be precise. The ease and convenience of browsing at home is something we’ve come to take for granted, particularly in the run up to Christmas. After all, who wouldn’t prefer to be tucked up in bed with a cuppa as opposed to elbowing through the Oxford St. crowds?
A recent Barclaycard survey has identified that people are now buying everything from their weekly food shops to holidays in the middle of the night – with Lastminute.com, to name but one, seeing a recent spike in late night traffic. Naturally, lots of savvy marketers have picked up on this trend and there has been a steep rise in the number of promotional emails being sent in the wee hours too.
However, some members of the Money & Mental Health Policy Institution have pointed out that the retailers who pressure this trend of impulsive late night buying are fuelling erratic and reckless spending. Out of a survey of 5,500 people with mental health problems, 93% said they struggle to resist the urge to splurge at night time. I know that I for one have definitely fallen foul of a cheeky late night Asos browse more times than I’d care to admit.
What time did Edward Cullen purchase his Volvo?
On the other hand, retailers are also making it much easier for us to order online and return those items just as easily if we change our fickle minds. The Financial Times recently estimated the value of unwanted parcels to be nudging £60bn a year, proving that we are also a nation of serial returners. So perhaps sleepy shoppers aren’t the only victims of the newly dubbed ‘vampire economy’?
John Lewis has also tapped into the changing habits of their customers. In their most recent annual ‘How we shop, live and look’ report, the retailer identified that between 30-40% of their sales are now made online and they also reported a 31% spike in visitors to their website between midnight and 6am.
The release of their annual Christmas advert yesterday only serves to highlight this further. Are the acrobatic nocturnal animals just a metaphor? Are we all just hedgehogs bouncing in John Lewis’ net? What I do know is that the arrival of #BustertheBoxer has got me feeling festive and I certainly intend to do my (frantic and last minute) Christmas shopping from the comfort of my bed.