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Are Boxing Day Sales Less Popular Than Black Friday?

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Are Boxing Day Sales Less Popular Than Black Friday?

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Saving Boxing Day Sales
Forgotten amidst all the excitement about Christmas, New Year’s, and Black Friday, Boxing Day now languishes outside the limelight.
The popularity of online shopping, which has partly fuelled Black Friday excitement, has been a challenge for Boxing Day. By the time Boxing Day rolls around, consumers, inundated with discounts, are experiencing “discount fatigue.” 
The data suggests that retailers must find new ways to make sales on Boxing Day. Below, we map a winning strategy for retailers looking to capitalize on Boxing Day promotions.
Shrinking Boxing Day Sales
If you are a high street retailer, you might be familiar with the sad decline of Boxing Day. According to a BBC report on Boxing Day 2018, retail sales were down 0.9%. 
The report mentions that the month-on-month decline in December 2018 sales was the largest monthly drop since March 2017.
Retailers like Debenhams, Mothercare, and Marks and Spencer were among those reporting a decline in sales during the Christmas season. The decline was so severe that the British Retail Consortium ranked it as the worst Christmas season in a decade.
Brexit Continues To Weigh On Holiday Sales
The decline of Boxing Day might have happened on its own, due to competition from days like Black Friday, but Brexit also is to blame. The uncertainty over a “no deal” Brexit has caused considerable harm to the UK economy. 
The result is a spillover to the retail sector where consumer confidence plays a big role in holiday sales.
Discount Fatigue
In the past, shopping was mostly at brick and mortar retailers. In many ways, due to geographic limits, it was localized. Sale events were rare and valued. 
With online shopping, however, discounts are available on the internet almost everyday. This has led industry watchers to coin a new term: discount fatigue. 
Apart from Brexit, this is another factor that has weighed down shoppers’ enthusiasm for retailers’ efforts on Boxing Day.
Too Many Sale Events For Consumers To Care
By the time Boxing Day comes around on December 26 each year, sale-hungry consumers have had numerous chances to shop just about anything they wanted.
Business magazine RealBusiness poses the question whether a slew of discount shopping days during the holidays has overwhelmed shoppers. 
The magazine lists just a few of the sale events consumers must endure before Boxing Day ever rolls around: 
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday
  • Small Business Saturday
  • Manic Monday
  • Panic Saturday
Even for the most receptive consumers, the rush of sale events gets wearying after a while.
Are You Guilty Of Discounting “All The Time?” 
With consumers inundated by sale events during the holiday season, some retailers have experienced growing shopper indifference. The experience, though, is not limited to the UK alone.
In Australia, too, consumer apathy towards Boxing Day and late-season sale events is growing. As reported by The Chronicle, 22% of Australian consumers were tuning out Boxing Day sales and did not plan to participate. The reason they cited was that sellers offered discounts “all the time.”
Not All Is Lost For Big City Retailers
Boxing Day may be waning in popularity, but some retailers are hanging tough. Despite all the headlines about declining Boxing Day sales, big city retailers continue to pull traffic on Boxing Day.
Large Cities Attract Holiday Crowds
Small town retailers might be out of luck, but if you operate in a large city, you should still be able to capture your share of Boxing Day traffic.
This phenomenon has been witnessed in big cities including: 
  • London
  • Birmingham
  • Manchester
  • Edinburgh
  • Melbourne (Australia)
Old Traditions Die Hard 
As noted in The Guardian, Boxing Day still has appeal for bargain hunters. Even though it does not dominate the retail calendar in the same way it did a decade ago, Boxing Day is not really dead. 
Rather, it’s going through a transformation. 
In particular, retailers now need to entice customers with a mix of in-store excitement and online deals for those who would rather stay home.
International Tourists Welcome Weak Pound 
Brexit concerns may have hurt the high street, but the resulting weak pound has made British stores better for tourists. This has resulted, in recent years, in growing numbers of tourists shopping in the UK over the holidays. 
Tourist destinations like London are even more popular now than they were when the pound was stronger. This offers a new ray of light for high street retailers in areas most sought after by tourists.
Luxury Retailers See Big Tourist Surge
The UK’s luxury retail scene has long been popular among international tourists. Perhaps it’s fitting that these luxury retailers have experienced booming Boxing Day sales, thanks to international shoppers.
A sustained fall in the British pound, experienced going back a few years, makes shopping at British shops cheaper for international tourists. 
In August 2019, the effect became more pronounced, with the pound hitting a 31 month low against the US dollar.
Where The Tourists Are Coming From
The international tourist arrivals boosting some retailers’ sales are an increasingly diverse group. 
In 2019, summer flight bookings from long-haul markets, according to the BBC, were 6% higher. In addition, arrivals from China were at their highest ever.
Other countries contributing significantly to tourist shopping on the British high streets in recent years, according to The Guardian, have included: 
  • Hong Kong
  • China
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States  
What Retailers Can Do To Get Boxing Day Sales
As you can see, Boxing Day may be less of a sure thing than it was in years gone past, but there are bright spots for retailers
Given the changing composition of who shops on Boxing Day, you will want to plan your promotion campaigns carefully and well in advance.
Tips For Getting Customers In-store On Boxing Day 
A gnawing concern you will need to tackle is the steady decline in footfall on Boxing Day. 
Case in point, The Guardian reported a 3% decline in Boxing Day footfall in 2018, noting that this was the third consecutive annual decline. It’s just harder to get shoppers in store now, due to some of the factors touched on above. 
Shoppers increasingly look to do their holiday shopping ahead of the holidays, and they shop more online. 
You can target these shoppers with online campaigns, even if you are a brick and mortar retailer. For example, you could offer a coupon online that customers can bring to your store to buy and get a discount. 
To match the preferences of customers who want to spend holidays at home, begin campaigns early so that those shoppers can buy ahead of time. 
Watch The Rise Of Mobile 
Thanks to relentless improvements from the mobile operating system providers, customers are now shopping on mobile more often. 
According to a study by Digital Commerce 360, mobile now exceeds desktop shopping for all major holidays. Christmas Day and Boxing Day are among the holidays seeing a healthy share of shopping from mobile devices. 
What this means for retailers is that investing money into your mobile shopping experience is now a must, not just a nice to have. 
Customers are increasingly relying on these mobile devices to find and buy the best holiday deals.
How To Make Sales On Boxing Day
Once one of the biggest retail days, Boxing Day has changed. Retailers are seeing signs of “discount fatigue” amidst a flood of discounts targeted at shoppers. 
It’s harder for retailers’ offers to get noticed. 
However, some tactics still work. Targeting online shoppers, especially those using mobile devices, presents compelling possibilities for creative retailers. The weak pound is also likely to continue to help high street retailers sell more to international tourists.
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