Revealed: Our nocturnal online shopping habits

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IT IS not only the fly-by-night who buy-by-night, it has emerged, as the age of the smartphone gives rise to nocturnal spending habits.

Retail giant John Lewis has found that consumers are increasingly opting for the sanctuary of the bedroom over the hustle and bustle of the UK high street.

Its annual reported a huge rise in middle-of-the-night sales over the past 12 months, with purchasing between the hours of midnight and 6am up by 31 per cent.

Figures indicate a growing preference for smartphone shopping, with mobile devices now responsible for half of the brand’s web traffic. This year, mobile phones and tablets overtook desktop traffic for the first time on Christmas Day.

It is does not quite spell the end for the brand’s presence on the high street, however, as the report states that 70 per cent of sales still take place in-store. The statistic will provide reassurance for the region, with plans are pressing ahead to build a new branch in Leeds city centre and a Sheffield branch and newly-opened York store enjoying popularity with shoppers.

John Lewis managing director Andy Street said: “Browsing and shopping on the go is now the norm. This was the first year when more traffic came to our website from mobile than desktop.”

The annual report shed light on what this army of online shoppers, dubbed ‘inshopniacs’, fill their virtual baskets with in the dead of night. Trends reveal that sleep-deprived parents make the most of their early hours wake-up calls by logging on to stock up on nursery items at 4am, while ladies tend to shop for their shoes and handbags just before dawn has broken between 5am and 7am.

“What these ‘inshopniacs’ are buying, and at what time, says a lot about what’s on their minds,” added Mr Street.

“This is the year that mobile shopping went mainstream, customers are leading incredibly fast-paced lives and it’s important for them to be able to shop at any time, even in the middle of the night,” said brand director Paula Nickolds.

And it seems adults are not the only ones tapping into the smartphone trend.

A new study has revealed a third of all UK children now has their own tablet computer - almost double the number of last year, according to Ofcom’s annual Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes report.

Some 34 per cent of children aged between five and 15 use their own tablet rather than one belonging to their parents or school, up from 19 per cent last year.

Along with a surge in the use of mobile devices and night-time shopping, analysis of the John Lewis’ sales also revealed the trends and crazes which have defined retail this year - and the products most likely to suffer the same fate as the VHS.

Yorkshire’s hosting of the Tour de France has been credited with a corresponding spike in searches for cycling apparel in the week before the event. The wettest winter since 1766 saw a peak in search terms for “wellies” in February.

Meanwhile, sales of camcorders dropped and men’s black socks and deep fat fryers also saw sales slump.

Mr Street said: “Although it has only been a year since our last report, it is fascinating to see how lifestyles, shopping habits and tastes have evolved.

“While some trends come from external factors such as the weather and the economy, others are less predictable.”