This week Mintel were among the first analysts to reveal their Christmas predictions, citing expectation of just 3% growth this December with total sales forecast to hit £36.5bn. This is a slower rate than last year, which saw sales values surging to 6.1% according to the Office of National Statistics.

The summer holidays may be in full swing, but is hard to miss the first signs of Christmas sneaking up on us, more notably in the retail environment as we look to take advantage of the most significant shopping period of the year.

So, with festive shopper behaviour seemingly fine tuned to start earlier every year, is it ever too soon to dust off the Christmas tree, plan well-timed festive promotions and fill the shelves with red and green merchandise?

Christmas is coming in-store too

Major retailers all over the UK are preparing for Christmas even before the longest day of the year hits. Clinton’s have launched their Christmas card range on sale, and supermarkets such as ASDA and Tesco are currently shipping out their Christmas stock into their stores, ready to go on sale in September.

Selfridges London announced its Christmas floor opening this month, with ‘142 shopping days left to buy all the celebration’s essentials’. Whilst many people are thinking solely of enjoying the sunshine, the department store proudly claims to have been ‘working on this year’s Christmas Shop since Christmas last year.’

London 24 interviewed a Selfridges Buyer who explains: “We have so many customers visiting from all over the world and eager to snap up festive souvenirs on their summer holidays, which they can’t buy at home. So, we have to make sure we’re ready to showcase Christmas decorations they will truly treasure.”

Christmas shopper behaviour

Fluctuations are evident in shopper behaviour during seasonal times of the year. And the time of year that most reflects this is Christmas. Christmas can have the same effect on shoppers as Marmite. Some people love it. Some people hate it.

There’s the ‘behind the scene shopper’. Planning ahead, relishing in the challenge of finding those treasured gifts months in advance with every attempt of avoiding the lion’s den in December. Then there are the ‘adrenaline junkies’. The ones who refuse to show any sense of urgency, they appear calm, relaxed and in control. Then Christmas Eve hits, the panic starts and the claws come out.

By starting Christmas preparations early retailers won’t lose out, with the opportunity to capitalise on both types of shopper.

Seizing the moment

Improvements are continuously being made to the buying process, making purchase decisions for shoppers simpler, quicker and more accessible.

Many retailers are already gearing up their click and collect offering to take advantage of the bumper festive shopping season. According to analysts at Verdict Research, click and collect sales are expected to rise by 82% in the next five years.

Many locations are being turned into places where customers can pick up their online shopping, such as, car parks, local shops and petrol stations. Waitrose, in partnership with logistics company ByBox, is planning to set up refrigerated lockers from this autumn in Gatwick’s two terminals, enabling travellers to pick up their groceries on the way home. London Underground and Network Rail have both recently announced plans to turn their stations into pickup points for a host of different retailers, from Sainsbury’s to New Look.

Tapping into the shoppers’ psyche

Especially at Christmas, tapping into the shoppers’ psyche certainly is a skill many of us wish to perfect.

Our wealth of expertise and unique insight to shopper behaviour has enabled many brands to take advantage of the busy Christmas trading period, achieve their financial goals, and guide shoppers through the marketing cloud which hovers the high street.

Here are out top tips for early festive planning:

  • Sales are starting earlier each year, with many retailers taking advantage of the last minute shopping frenzy on Christmas Eve: Consider reshaping your campaign timing to take advantage of these extra trading hours.
  • Hold your nerve: last minute shopping still plays a part in many shoppers’ Christmas ritual.
  • According to a Toluna Quick survey 23% of shoppers are getting ‘bored of the January sales, as there are sales throughout the year anyway’: How can you re-engage with your shoppers to make the 2014 sale more appealing?
  • Don’t overlook the fact that the weather plays a fundamental part in how people shop: Create deployable contingency plans to take account of weather changes.

 

If you would like to speak to us about driving more shoppers to your brand, then get in touch today.

 

 

Angie Dac

Account Executive