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Written by Andréa Williams, Head of Marketing
Co-authored by Amelia Warburton, Work Experience
The Christmas ads are out, cosy evenings have taken precedence, the bush tucker trials are well underway and its officially red cup season in Starbucks. This can only mean one thing for the UK population, denouncing grumbles about how Christmas just gets earlier and earlier every year. The US even have a name for the phenomenon, coining the term ‘Christmas Creep’ specifically for retailers who deck the halls with Christmas merch far before anyone would consider it appropriate.
Whilst it might still feel too early, we’re now into the final stretch of the Golden Quarter with Black Friday just around the corner. We’ve looked at how the Golden Quarter has performed so far, but what’s next?
With less than two weeks until Black Friday, most retailers have already released their sales, with John Lewis, Boots and Curry’s leading a whole month of deals. Although month-long blanket discounts aren’t unfamiliar with retailers attempting to maximise profits and flatten the peak throughout the period, sales are also increasing with elongated sales period now suiting shoppers looking to spread the cost.
Whilst it’s expected that more brands will join the boycotting of Black Friday this year, it’s expected that consumers will engage with sales as they set out to save money amid the cost-of-living crisis. 59% of consumers engaged in Black Friday 2021, overtaking pre-covid levels and it’s expected that the average shopper is set to spend £275 on the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales however they will be looking for quality over quantity, considering purchases they know will be worth their while.
An unusual factor playing into peak spend, is the FIFA World Cup tournament kicking off on the 18th of November. This is likely to boost hospitality spend throughout the peak trade period with 3.572 billion people having watched the FIFA world cup final in 2018. Greene King pub franchise sold 500,000 extra pints during the Panama vs England game, with some bar chains already fully booked ahead of England matches, the tournament combined with Christmas party season, is expected to give a short but successful boost to the hospitality sector.
Not only does Black Friday land on the 25th November this year, but so does England’s group stage game against the USA who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2018 World Cup for the first time since 1986. Black Friday is unsurprisingly larger in the US and UK than any other nation, so there’s the potential that spend on the day for shopping might be distracted, however this isn’t bad news for overall economic spend as hospitality spend will largely increase with this being the first of England’s games outside of normal working hours, at 7pm on a Friday night.
Now for the final event, what it’s really all about – Christmas. What are shoppers buying for their nearest and dearest this year and how does this compare to previous years?
Spirits and chocolate still lead their categories on gift buying, despite 54% of consumers planning to spend less on food and drink this year. The post-Covid trend of homeware and wellbeing is continuing, with more people planning to spend time at home, but new technology still continues to spike the most interest in buying.
UK retailers are focusing on family, novelty and warmth this year, with a lot of them cutting their partywear lines by at least 15%. This is as shoppers set to cut back, looking for more functional and quality products that will also provide value with a rough winter ahead with products like air fryers and warm fleece lined pyjamas expected to sell well.
Jens Levin, CEO and Co-founder at Sitoo gives us his recommendation:
It’s actually quite simple – your customers want to get what they want, when they want it. They want to know what stock is available, they want to start shopping online and finish in store or vice versa, and, if needed, they want to make online returns in store. They also want knowledgeable store associates who can assist in the best way.
To optimize sales during the season and build customer loyalty beyond the holidays – you need to make shopping simple and meet your customers expectations of all sales channels acting as one. The key to unifying your sales channels is to have the same real-time product, price, stock, order and customer data everywhere. With unified data in place, it’s way easier to enable cross-channel services like Endless Aisle, Click & Collect, seeing in-store stock levels online, and much more. Plus you can use your stores as fulfilment centres for orders placed online.
But, to truly stand out from the competition and win the season, you should think of your physical stores as the heart, and your store associates as the soul, of your brand experience. Give them all the information they’ll ever need to provide great service and the ability to sell any available stock no matter where it is.
If you do that, then not only will you take your efficiency to the next level, you’ll also turn your store associates into brand champions making sure you never miss a sale and your customers always leave your stores happy.
Balancing continuing supply chain pressure, consumer cutbacks and strikes is already proving difficult but with the expected increased spend in hospitality, and strikes impacting delivery times and supply chains, it is expected that shoppers will hit the high street this year to make sure they get hold of their products in time for Christmas. We’ve been supporting our clients in getting ready for peak trade and can help you ensure your systems are primed and ready to run smoothly.
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