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Christmas insights: what the sales figures so far tell us about this year’s holiday shopping

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It’s still early days in the annual reporting of Christmas sales figures, but here we round up what we know so far to suggest some emerging trends in the way that shoppers spent their money over the holiday period.

Shoppers went online to buy

Online sales in the week after Christmas were 15% up on the same time last year, according to figures from one payment processor.

Dave Glaser, chief product and marketing officer, global ecom at Worldpay said: “Our analysis of retail spending in the week following Christmas found online sales to have jumped by 15% compared to last year. It is clear that Brits cannot resist the opportunity to bag a Boxing Day bargain, but the ease and simplicity of shopping online, combined with the recent cold snap have contributed to the spike in online sales this year.

“The freezing temperatures may have encouraged more of us to shop from the comfort of our own homes, but this is very much in line with the trend we saw during the major shopping events that kicked off the festive spending spree. The January sales are still an important event in the UK retail calendar, but the ease of online shopping may well be overtaking the traditional excitement of hitting the high street.”

Theo Paphitis Retail Group companies Ryman , Boux Avenue and Robert Dyas collectively reported a move towards online shopping, while at Next , store-based sales were down and online sales were up in the run up to Christmas – but not by enough to make up for the decline in store sales.

But they stayed away from the high street

The Springboard 2016 Christmas Footfall Review shows week-on-week footfall peaking in November, rising to 6.2% in the fourth week of the month, as the Christmas trading period started in earnest. Black Friday footfall was 39.2% up on the previous Friday, and the following Friday was 14% down from Black Friday.

The biggest week-on-week rise of 7.4% came in the fourth week of December. But compared to last year, footfall was down by 1.9% over the six week period from the second week of November to the third week of December. Springboard says the significant uplift in the fourth week of December (+13.2%) was because Christmas Day fell on a Sunday, providing two extra shopping days.

The report said that Christmas footfall both reflected and magnified the 2016 trend of “a modest bounce back of the high street alongside a slowing of growth out of town and a downward slide in shopping centre activity”.

It added: “The reasons for these shifts in footfall performance share the same foundation, which is a rapid evolution in shoppers’ requirements from bricks and mortar retail destinations, moving away from purely transactional-based trips to trips that focus on offering a more rounded leisure experience.”

Clearance interest was piqued online

While shoppers at department store group John Lewis bought briskly online in the run up to Christmas, its busiest period in of the week to Christmas Eve came in the final hours of that week, when the online clearance had begun. John Lewis’ director of shop trade Maggie Porteous said the busiest online shopping hour was between 6pm and 7pm on Christmas Eve, while orders also came in thick and fast on Christmas Day, between 9pm and 10pm. The shops saw their busiest day on December 27, their first day of the Clearance event.

Porteous said: “Desire to make Christmas dinner tables and homes look great for friends and family drove last minute online shopping purchases on Eight of the top ten selling items online before Christmas were household items and included sets of china, white plates and cereal bowls. Click & collect orders were busy right up to the last collection day on Christmas Eve, and orders for that week were up 15.9% year on year.”

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