LONDON Britons spent 1.1 billion pounds shopping online on "Black Friday" last week, an increase of 36 percent on the previous year, according to an estimate published by retail researcher Experian-IMRG.
The sales promotion day, a concept first imported from the United States in 2010, was much more of an online event this year compared to last as shoppers opted to use websites rather than visit physical stores.
Online retailer Amazon UK, John Lewis [JLPLC.UL] [JLP.UL], Britain's biggest department store chain, and Dixons Carphone, Britain's largest electrical goods and mobile phone chain, all said Friday was their biggest-ever single day's trade.
Amazon said over 6 million items were ordered on its site, while John Lewis said total sales were up 11.9 percent on last year's event.
Last year Black Friday in Britain was marred by long queues and brawls in stores. A typical mixture of strong winds and heavy rain across the country and memories of last year's scuffles were likely to have encouraged more Britons to shop online this year.
At British stores, Black Friday shopper numbers fell 4 percent year-on-year, according to retail researcher Footfall.
"This ... increase in (online) spend ... clearly shows that this date is likely to continue to be a permanent fixture in the online retail calendar in the UK, despite the lower-than-expected footfall in bricks and mortar stores," said James Miller, senior retail consultant at Experian Marketing Services.
This year store groups, including household goods retailer Argos and clothing and food retailer Marks & Spencer, stretched Black Friday discounts over several days to smooth demand.
"Looking at the weekend as a whole, there was a different pattern of trade to last year," John Lewis said.
"On Black Friday itself, sales were mainly driven by johnlewis.com, while shops were busy at the weekend with sales on Saturday +9.3 percent year on year."
(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Susan Fenton and Susan Thomas)