What can retailers expect over the Christmas period?
These insights are taken from Experian’s 2014 Festive Insights report, which is available free here.
For marketers, especially those that work in the retail sector, Christmas is a vital time of the year.
In this article we have broken down the festive retail calendar and pulled out some key dates that we believe all retail marketers should be aware of and prepared for.
These insights are based on data from previous years with a focus on Christmas 2013. December 2013 was the first ever month that saw over three billion UK Internet visits to retail websites. This year we predict that number to continue to rise to at least 3.5 billion.
With each key date we have provided some advice on how you can make sure you’re well placed to make use of this information. For further predictions check out our article on Christmas 2014 predictions.
Black Friday – November 28
Black Friday is the name given to the last Friday in November that has become one of the busiest retail days of the year. Black Friday originated in the US but in the past few years it has increased in popularity this side of the Atlantic. Traditionally falling on the last Friday in November, the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday has come to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping period.
Last year in the final week of November, one out of every 550 searches in the UK concerned Black Friday.
Using Experian’s Hitwise platform to monitor visits to a wide range of major retailers we saw Black Friday 2013 (29 November) become a huge British shopping day with a 19% increase in visits to retail websites compared to Black Friday 2012.
This year we expect the influence of Black Friday and the activity of shoppers around this time to increase further so retailers should be prepared.
The interest around Black Friday is driven by reduced prices and great offers. Make sure you have prepared your offers and marketing campaigns to suit this. Advertising your Black Friday activity is advisable to ensure potential and existing customers are aware of what you are doing.
Cyber Monday – December 1
Cyber Monday is the term for the Monday after Black Friday. Another American influence, Cyber Monday, like Black Friday, has experienced an increase in popularity in the UK in recent years. Last year UK consumers logged over 115 million visits to retail websites – a 9% increase from 2012.
In a similar vein to the approach to Black Friday, online retailers should be prepared for an increased level of interest on Cyber Monday. Christmas promotions should be ready and your online functions working smoothly.
Manic Monday – December 8
Last year saw a new trend emerge as the second Monday of December witnessed a huge spike in online activity. As the above graph shows, retail websites racked up 120 million visits on this day alone, an extraordinary 10% increase on 2012, making the second Monday in December, or Manic Monday as we have named it, the biggest online pre-Christmas shopping day.
We believe that Manic Monday will continue to grow, at the expense of Cyber Monday, because people are comfortable leaving their Christmas shopping later and later due to increased trust in the ability of retailers to deliver closer to Christmas.
Retailers should be prepared for Manic Monday to experience an even larger number of online visits. The closer to Christmas retailers can guarantee delivery, the later online activity will gradually become.
Best day for festive email campaigns – December 10
Based on insights and analysis from previous years we predict that email campaigns sent the week starting December 8 will likely experience the best open and click through rates.
Retailers planning Christmas email campaigns should bear these insights in mind and attempt to get their campaigns sent within this time frame. There are other factors that affect the best send date for each individual retailer, such as the specifics of products and what impact this has on delivery dates, so combining the understanding of your brand and customers with these insights is the best course of action.
Start your sales messaging – December 20
We have highlighted December 20th as the predicted optimum date to start sales campaigns based on search activity regarding the sales over the past few years.
A good soft approach to this is to start releasing information about the post-Christmas sales on social media. Be careful not to stifle your Christmas messages with information about your sales. The final week in the run up to Christmas remains a hugely busy shopping time for Christmas, especially with later and later delivery dates. Just make sure that if people want to find out about your sales the information is readily available.
Promote click and collect services – December 22
Christmas 2013 saw online shoppers leave it later than ever do their shopping. While improved distribution means people are more willing to leave their Christmas shopping later and later the impact of the rise of click and collect must not be underestimated.
Click and collect saw a huge boom last Christmas and 2014 has seen that trend increase further. For instance, searches for Click and Collect have more than doubled (116%) when comparing August 2014 to August 2013. In Christmas 2014, bearing in mind the continued growth of click and collect in the months since last Christmas, we predict an even greater number of us will use this handy option.
Click and collect is a useful tool for consumers because they can order online to collect in store. Delivery times are normally shorter than deliveries direct to their homes so as Christmas gets closer more people will take to click and collect. It also offers the handy option of combining picking up ordered items with a last minute shopping trip.
The best way to make the most in the later and later Christmas shopping trends is to heavily promote your delivery times and the details of your click and collect services. Make sure you are clear with the hours your stores are open and how quickly after ordering online your customers can collect.
Be prepared for online activity to last longer than ever before, retailers able to guarantee delivery and click and collect service the closest to Christmas will benefit.
Online shopping will last longer but the high street will dominate in the final few days
While we are confident in predicting that online activity will continue later than ever before there will, as there always does, come a point where shoppers take to the high street to pick up those last minute items. If you take look at the below graph which compares Footfall data to online browsing from last year you can see that it is only in the days just before Christmas that footfall overtakes online browsing. While we predict that this will come later this year the last few days before Christmas will see more shoppers on the high street rather than online.
Those brands which are able to guarantee delivery and click and collect services closest to Christmas will definitely benefit this year but there will come a point when more traditional footfall shoppers will take over.
For the sixth consecutive year, Boxing Day 2013 was the single biggest online shopping day of the year, with UK Internet users making 129 million visits to retail websites and setting a new daily retail visits record in the process.
We predict that Boxing Day 2014 will continue this trend and will once again set records as the single biggest online shopping day. Strong growth of 15% between 2012 and 2013 suggests that Boxing Day 2014 will be huge.
Boxing Day 2014 will be huge as the increase in online activity continues. Those brands which are aware of this prediction and prepared for the increased numbers will be best suited to take advantage.
Making the most of Christmas 2014
The festive period is a huge opportunity for marketers and these key dates should go some way to highlighting the key areas and what to expect in Christmas 2014.
However, competition and constantly evolving customer behaviour means that those that have an edge will thrive and those who do not will struggle. In marketing that edge is all about customer insight. If you can analyse trends and patterns and accurately predict future behaviour you can adapt your offerings and align yourself with your customers.
The better a company knows and understands its customer the better it will be able to prepare and tailor its services to suit them.
Christmas is no different. The brand’s that are able to guarantee delivery and click and collect services closer to Christmas are going to excel while those that cannot will struggle. Likewise companies that are switched on to the opportunities presented by the newer and emerging online retail peaks of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Cyber Middle Monday will be best suited to be able to grab a chunk of that traffic.
What are your thoughts? Do you already have these dates in your diary? Do you disagree with our predictions? What do you think Christmas 2014 will entail for retail? Leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you.
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