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Mother’s Day outlines pent-up retail demand, but delivery and marketing strategies see some dramatic changes

Mother's Day in the UK drove up online sales

Mother’s Day drove web sales up 17% in the first two weeks of March, outlining the pent-up demand for retail and forcing retailers to adopt some new sales and delivery tactics.

With Covid-19 restrictions preventing the family gatherings typically seen on Mothering Sunday, and with hospitality venues and non-essential retail stores still closed, UK shoppers turned to ecommerce as Mother’s Day related retail sales were tipped to rise 9% to £1.34bn compared to 2020.

Data from Wunderkind shows that email channel revenues jumped +12.3% week-on-week in the first week of March, as shoppers looked to get ahead on gift buying, while Argos reported that web sales of Mother’s Day gifts had more than tripled compared to last year, up 235%. 

With some online florists reportedly running out of delivery spots, supermarket Waitrose partnered with Deliveroo to offer a 30-minute express flower delivery service to keep up with demand.  

Some consumers also used the day to look ahead and plan for celebrations when restrictions ease, with an estimated £163m spent on experiences—from spa days to afternoon teas—to enjoy later in the year.

Wulfric Light-Wilkinson, GM EMEA at Wunderkind, says: “We’re beginning to see what pent up demand might look like, with online spend remaining buoyed as lockdown fatigue looms large and the promise of eased restrictions comes ever closer.  Consumers are already investing emotionally in purchases – whether it be gifting or buying ahead experiences that can be enjoyed together once lockdown is lifted.  This points to a great deal of opportunity as we look ahead for retailers and brands to engage new customers whilst improving loyalty amongst existing shoppers.”

However, while Mothering Sunday provided a welcome boost to online retail revenues, this year saw many more brands and retailers offering to opt out customers from Mother’s Day communications if they find the day difficult.  

This empathetic move first came two years ago from online florists, Bloom & Wild, and this year has been adopted by The Very Group, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.  Very’s CMO, Carly O’Brien, said the events of the last year had made it “even more important that we’re sensitive to customers’ feelings” while Waitrose’s spokesperson acknowledged that “while Mother’s Day is a celebratory time for many, it can be painful for others, particularly when so many have lost loved ones during the pandemic.”

“Brands have always sought to emotionally connect with their customers,” Light-Wilkinson adds.  “But when it comes to consumer engagement sometimes what you don’t say can be just as important as what, and when, you do.” 

“This straightforward yet effective piece of segmentation allowed retailers to sympathetically support customers and personalise communications according to their unique circumstances or views around Mother’s Day,” he concludes. 

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