John Lewis, the British retail partnership has seen a 23% increase in nocturnal spending in the last year, based on proprietary credit card data: around one in every 15 purchases made using the John Lewis credit card are made between midnight and six AM.

Of those purchases, the data suggests that sleepless shopping sessions are centred on two things: sleep and escape.

Focusing on products from the firm’s own site, the data reveals that duvet covers are the most popular search term. Shoppers’ partners appear to inform habits too: headphones also rank highly. Outside of the John Lewis site, meanwhile, by far the most popular credit card purchase is on holidays.

Women account for two thirds (66%) of nocturnal purchases. However, men tend to spend more on average.

“Shopping is now a 24-hour activity. More customers are shopping on their smartphones and tablet computers and it would appear many are using this technology to shop from the comfort of their own beds,” said Mike Jackson, director of financial services at John Lewis & Partners in comments to the Guardian.

Mildly interesting as these findings appear, the data highlights fundamental shifts in the way the UK shops. Not only has the decade of the smartphone (and to a lesser extent the tablet) created a situation of ubiquitous commerce, it has made of shopping an accessible source of entertainment closer in kind to swiping through Instagram than making a day of a trip to the mall.

As such, in the nineties, Saturday afternoon was the busiest time for card transactions in the UK. Many blame the struggling state of the UK’s high street on a migration to e-commerce.

John Lewis, meanwhile, was quick to react to a changing landscape: namely that people liked to visit stores but would often go home to make large purchases. Poor measurement (and a lack of facilitation for this behaviour) has left many retailers chasing the curve.

To stop store managers being hurt by online sales, John Lewis switched to a catchment area sales measure. For the retailer, e-commerce isn’t an add on, it’s a fundamental part of the business. Already 50% of the brand’s total trade comes from its website.

Late nights are not the only unconventional state in which people shop: recent research by The Hustle in the US found that 79% of its readers had made at least one purchase when drunk and that the average annual spend of these consumers was $444. If a similar proportion of the entire alcohol consuming country did this, it would equate to a $48.8 billion market.

Sourced from The Guardian, WARC