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21 Dec 2018

Christmas Retail Trends

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Christmas 2017 has been and gone and you might not have given it a second thought, but what if it could help you? What if looking back almost 12 months could in fact give you all the marketing inspiration you might need to make Christmas 2018 (and all those yet to come) better than any that has come before? Then it is well worth searching back through the archives and looking at what the Christmas buying trends were for last year. 
 
Except you don’t have to do that because we’ve done it for you. It makes for a fascinating read and, what’s even better, is that you can use any and all of this information to help you perform better than you might even have thought possible this festive season. 
 
 
Why Learn From The Past?
 
There are a number of reasons why learning from the past – particularly when it comes to marketing and sales – is a good idea. In fact, it’s not just a good idea; it’s the only thing to do when you want to increase your turnover and, ideally, your profits. 
 
You can see what worked and what didn’t in terms of advertising, for example, so that you don’t rush blindly into doing the same thing year in, year out, without knowing whether you’re wasting your advertising budget on something that is turning people off, or boring them into buying from a competitor. 
 
Plus, it’s not just your past you can learn from, which is why we’ve put together this analysis of last year’s general buying trends. You can see exactly what happened and use those figures to plot your own marketing and sales promotions. The following trends took place in 2017, and can make your 2018 a very happy one indeed if you use them to your advantage. 
 
 
Amazon Won Out
 
You might have been able to guess this first point already, but bear with us – it’s an important one. Amazon was the most successful online store during November and December 2017, racking up an average of 26 percent of all online sales during that time. In the run up to Christmas, that increased to 28 percent. 
 
You may feel that knowing this information neither helps nor hinders you; after all, this is Amazon we’re talking about. They don’t count. They’re far too big for you to be thinking about because you just can’t compete, so you can just ignore everything they’re doing and let them get on with it. Right? 
 
Wrong. That’s what most small businesses will be doing. That’s what your competitors will be doing. But when it comes to you, if you can look at Amazon’s incredible strategies, marketing, sales, and more, you may be able to find a way to increase your own sales too. Follow what Amazon does and replicate it in your own business. Remember, Amazon started small too. 
 
 
Location, Location, Location 
 
Although most online shopping in November and December wasn’t too focused on location – it doesn’t need to be, and that’s one of the beauties for both customers and businesses when it comes to online sales; location isn’t that important – as Christmas got nearer, that all changed. In 2016 there was a definite upward trend in the week before Christmas, with an additional five percent of searches including a location. 
 
In 2017 this rose to a massive 28 percent. It is likely that this was due to the fact that presents had been left too late to buy online, meaning that gift givers had to go to shops to purchase them. 
 
What can you do with this information? There are two possibilities. Firstly, make sure that your location is properly embedded in your site’s information and in your SEO strategy so that you appear in searches in your area and people can come to you to purchase whatever it is they need. Alternatively, if you would rather people didn’t visit because you work from home, for example, make sure that you have an option that allows for next day or even same day delivery. You can charge extra for this, of course, but it might net you some extra last minute sales just before Christmas itself. 
 
 
Research First
 
Another trend that we can see happening in 2017 was that three percent more people did their research online and then headed out to the shops to make their purchase. Although this is only a small increase, it is certainly an interesting one because in the past we have expected that more and more shopping is done entirely online. This very slight upward trend in people forgoing that convenience and choosing to step outside their homes is something to be watched carefully. 
 
Something to note is that this increase occurred around Black Friday. It is possible that buyers felt they could gain all the information they needed online regarding what it was they wanted to purchase, including the prices (lowered for the season), making it a simple mission to head out, pick up what they wanted, and take it home again that day. 
 
This shows that discounting for Black Friday isn’t something you can choose to ignore; people are searching for bargains, and if you can offer them some they will come to you for them. 
 
 
October Begins It
 
The magic month, the month when all of this gift buying begins in earnest, is October. More precisely, it is the last week of October that sees a sharp spike in people searching for Christmas presents online. 
 
If you want to make the most of this trend – which has been seen in previous years too – then October is when you should be marketing to those who want to buy their loved ones something special and exciting. Don’t make your advertising overtly Christmassy until mid-November, though, or you might turn people away. 
 
 
More Gifts For Her 
 
Searches for ‘gifts for her’ started earlier than those for ‘gifts for him’, and in total gifts for him came in at 40 percent below gifts for her. 
 
What does this mean? 
 
Simply that those looking for the ideal gift for a wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, or any other female relative or friend need more help and advice in finding whatever it is they are looking for. Those looking for gifts for men have a much clearer idea of what they want, and even where to get it. 
 
So you can market to the two gift giving camps in different ways. For those looking for a gift for a man, give them some different options. It’s true they might have a good idea of what they want, but might they be persuaded to buy something else? Something extra? For those looking for a gift for a woman, don’t give them too much choice – point them directly to what you want them to buy and tell them that it’s exactly what they want. 
 
 
Argos 
 
One again perhaps this point will be of little surprise to those who enjoy doing their shopping on the high street, but Argos was the strongest traditional retailer over Christmas 2017. They don’t have quite the same share as Amazon does online, but they do take a three percent share of traffic. This peaks on Black Friday and stays high until the week (the day) before Christmas. 
 
Argos sells something for everyone. It is possible to visit an Argos store with a list of names and purchase all of your gifts in one go – and that’s why people like it. 
 
If this is something you are able to offer, then this is what you need to push in your marketing. If not, turn things around and explain why it’s so much better to take your time and look in all the smaller independent shops. Argos’ model can help you either way, depending on the spin you put on it. 
 
 
Black Friday Winners 
 
Many retailers won when it came to Black Friday 2017, but Currys, John Lewis, and Debenhams were the big winners overall. During the week of Black Friday they all managed to double their website traffic. 
 
Keep an eye on what they are doing this year; they know what a good time it was for them in 2017, and they will stick with their tried and tested marketing methods. Can you use that in your business? 
 
 
The Sales 
 
Don’t forget that after Christmas people love to hunt down a good bargain – it’s a tradition for many. Argos, Next, and Currys all had massive surges when it came to traffic from Boxing Day onwards. 
 
Shoppers still love a Boxing Day bargain, so ensure that your business is ready to discount. It’s expected and it will help you to reduce some of last year’s stock if there is any left. It will also help you to find new customers and hopefully keep them for the next 12 months and beyond. 
 
 
What Black Friday?
 
Perhaps surprisingly given all the advertising and marketing we see regarding it, six percent of all Black Friday searches were made after the day had already passed. 
 
Six percent might seem like a small number, but when you think of all the people searching, it still amounts to many potential sales. So keep your Black Friday event going. Make it a week long affair, perhaps two weeks. Maybe longer; your market research will help you to work out when to call a halt. 
 
 
What Cyber Monday?
 
Cyber Monday doesn’t seem to have hit quite the same note as Black Friday, and searches for Cyber Monday were far lower than those for Black Friday. Therefore, go all out on Black Friday and, as mentioned above, keep it going for as long as you need to. Cyber Monday doesn’t necessarily need to feature in your plans. 
 
 
Conclusion 
 
Looking at last year’s Christmas online trends is supremely useful; you can see exactly what the big retailer did, and what people were searching for, and that means you can align your marketing strategy accordingly. 
 
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