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August bank holiday set to see the first peak of Christmas shopping interest, says eBay

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The August bank holiday will spark a series of spending peaks leading up to Christmas, new analysis suggests.

The weekend will trigger the start of Christmas spending in the UK and should be seen as the first of a series of peaks in seasonal shopping during the fourth quarter of the year, according to eBay data.

The marketplace says that over the course of a stormy August bank holiday weekend in 2016, searches for Christmas on eBay rose by 57%. That could be, says the marketplace, because shoppers put thoughts of the summer behind them as the weather worsened over the course of the weekend.

Between the Friday and Bank Holiday Monday, searches for “Christmas stocking” and “Christmas jumper” were up by 50% and 39% respectively. That suggests, says eBay, that consumers were actively preparing for Christmas four months ahead of time.

The upcoming Bank Holiday weekend represents a chance, says eBay, for brands and sellers to engage early with consumers who are thinking about Christmas early.

Bert Bassett, director, hard goods UK at eBay, said: “Brands and sellers are used to planning Christmas strategies early on in the year, but it’s important to understand that it’s not just the retail industry that’s looking so far ahead; our data shows that consumers also start thinking about the festive season in summer.”

eBay has now launched its 2017 Christmas Tracker, identifying “windows of influence” in different brand categories, which eBay defines as the period during which searches in the category rise and remain at elevated levels in the run up to Christmas.

eBay has also identified the peak week in each category, reflecting the busiest seven days in Q4.

It says the clothes, shoes and accessories category boasted the longest window of influence, likely to be driven by early shopping for festive and party outfits. Spending in the toys, games and baby categories, on the other hand, is weighted towards the early part of peak season, suggesting that shoppers prioritise buying presents for their children before focusing on the remainder of their friends and family.

Entertainment categories experienced some of latest windows of influence, with activity in eBay’s sound and vision and the DVDs, films and TV categories remaining at peak until the week of Christmas itself, as shoppers looked for stocking fillers and family entertainment. Technology also proved a popular last-minute gift, with searches in eBay’s cameras, photography, computers, tablets and networking categories at peak levels right up to the eleventh hour.

Black Friday had a big impact across many sectors, with a number of different categories – particularly those with a technology focus – experiencing their biggest weeks at this time

Pauline Robson, managing partner at MediaCom, said: “The fourth quarter is a time of huge opportunity for brands, but the scale of the investment in peak season strategies and the intense competition from competitors mean the stakes are extremely high. Online platforms give brands the flexibility to plan for annual peaks and troughs in interest while remaining flexible to real time influences on consumer behaviour.

“For example, there were severe weather warnings in place around the country on the Saturday of the August bank holiday weekend last year, suggesting that unseasonable weather could play a part in turning shoppers’ attention to the festive season at the end of summer.”

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