Early discounts changed the way we shopped over Christmas, figures suggest


Early discounting by retailers looking to boost December trading after a record Black Friday seems to have changed the way we shopped over Christmas, early analysis suggests. On Christmas Day it seems ecommerce sales rose, while Boxing Day sales were down online as shoppers had already snapped up discounts that went on offer unusually early.

PCA Predict’s Big Data Labs recorded the briskest online trade yet reported on Christmas Day, with sales up by 21% compared to the same day last year. But although Christmas commerce peaked at 9pm to 10pm on Christmas Day, PCA found online Boxing Day sales were down by 3%, something that it put down to unseasonably early discounting.

“As retailers started their sales early this year, we did not see the usual surge in online shopping on Boxing Day,” said Jamie Turner, co-founder and CTO of PCA Predict.Instead, consumers had the convenience of being able to browse online throughout the entire Christmas period to find deals and discounts. This demonstrates the monumental impact Black Friday has had on both the industry and consumers’ shopping habits this year and it will be interesting to see if this trend will continue next Christmas.”

Store trade does seem to have risen on Boxing Day, however, according to retail intelligence agency FootFall, which reported the number of visitors going into stores was 3.36% up compared to the same time last year.

Steve Richardson, UK regional director at FootFall, said:  “Even some of the late shopping dates, where traditionally we would have expected an increase in shopper traffic were down compared to last year, as retailers offer later and later online delivery dates ahead of Christmas.  For instance, footfallon Christmas Eve was down 5.9% year-on-year.

“This year we have also seen one of the longest and sustained periods of discounting by retailers, which also may have impacted shopper traffic rising yesterday, with consumers – motivated by the extra public holiday on Monday – finally taking to the streets to pick up a bargain.”

Footfall was higher in shopping centres than retail parks (-1.77%  YOY), suggesting that  shoppers bought alongside other leisure activities such as meals out or cinema trips.

John Coyne, chief executive of the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC), said: “Despite the well-reported increase in online shopping in the run-up to the festive period, the number of shoppers in centres and retail parks over the period and on Boxing Day was relatively stable.  That is good news for local communities, the economy and employment and it reflects the evolving nature of retail places, which are attracting more customers by providing a mix of retail, leisure, food and beverage, outlets along with services like click and collect which encourage shoppers to pick up goods in store.”

Analysing online trading over Christmas Day and Boxing Day, PCA found that 42% of shoppers bought from their mobile phones on Christmas Day, with 44% buying from their desktop computers. Only 14% used tablet computers to browse the sale.

Digital analytics specialist SimilarWeb [IRDX VSWB] also found early peaks in post-Christmas shopping, with a 3% year-over-year increase in online shopping on Christmas Day.

It says that based on desktop traffic, Christmas Day is now firmly established as a leading online shopping day in the UK with one-day spikes for leading retailers. Christmas Day also overtook Cyber Monday for overall desktop visits among shoppers.

According to SimilarWeb, the biggest winner was video gaming retailer Game, which registered a 140% one-day increase in desktop traffic – from December 24 to December 25. It was followed by H&M (104%), (99%), Sports Direct and PCWorld (85%) as the big winners for one-day traffic gains on Christmas Day.

Lidl was the biggest winner among retail apps in the UK, recording a 263% increase in active app use on Christmas Day (the average daily percentage of users with the app installed, using the app). Other big app spikes for UK retail apps included Wish Shopping (18.5%), Argos (15.6%), QVC (13.8%) and Geek (11.2%).

Pascal Cohen, SimilarWeb digital insights manager, said: “With continuing year-over-year growth in traffic, online shopping is now an established part of Christmas Day for millions of UK consumers.

“Whether it is using vouchers given as gifts, or with greater time on our hands, the day has become a staple of the online shopping calendar, leading to big traffic gains for many retailers.”

In the run up to Christmas, online shopping on Saturday December 19 was up by 54% on the equivalent day last year, but down by 16% on the previous Saturday, December 12 as, suggested PCA Predict, shoppers became nervous presents would not arrive in time.

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