Christmas isn’t over yet

First Christmas sale figures are out with further reports due later this week – rest assured, Christmas is not over. November and December continue to be the months of spending, and as the ONS data verifies, retail sales growth continues to increase year on year. Even though the official December 2017 figures have not been published yet, judging by November and like for like figures from the previous year, it’s quite clear we are very likely to have had another annual increase.

Yet, looking at the individual retailer reports as they are being published, there are definite winners and losers: some celebrate unexpected growth, others try to pick up what went wrong with their Christmas marketing plans or with consumers’ behaviour, or both.

And our behaviour has certainly changed: fewer of us seem to be bothered to actually make it physically to the store. Springboard footfall data for this Christmas and a year before shows a notable drop in footfall on Boxing Day (-4.5%) and an astonishingly high decrease on New Year’s Eve of over 10%, both contributing to an overall decrease of store visits over the entire post-Christmas period. Traditionally this could be easily attributed to bad weather. But – as you might guess – it’s not much to do with the weather but rather the appeal of online shopping. With consumers comfortable with online ordering, easy return policies and the promise of timely delivery, online shopping is firmly growing year on year.

The popularity of pre-Christmas bargain hunting on Black Friday is not waning either. But Black Friday has changed too. Previously many Brits would stay up late to start shopping as soon as the clock strikes midnight, sacrificing their sleep in order to get the best deal before it’s all out of stock. This year though, according to the e-commerce data from PCA Predict, overnight sales (midnight to 7am) fell by a quarter compared to last year. No need to be rushed and miss out on your sleep: many retailers started Black Friday days before the actual day itself, and continued for many days after. Consumers simply expect that they can take their time, and in the ever more competitive landscape retailers need to abide.

And as for the demise of the traditional brick and mortar stores… it’s true that online shopping is growing rapidly, but currently, it’s claimed to represent only 15% of the total spend (Springboard). With some retailers claiming that as many as half of their online purchases are actually in-store collections (perhaps to avoid delivery charges), the death of the high street might not be that imminent after all.


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