Q4 in 2015 was tough for the retail sector. The rugby World Cup defeat, security fears and wet weather combined to push high-street footfall down by 4% YoY. The British Retail Consortium blamed online discounts from Black Friday onwards and the migration to online spending for the fall. But the high-street’s loss was ecommerce’s gain as consumers made 8.5 billion visits to shopping sites during the 2015 festive season, up 9% YoY.
We saw consumers make full use of 24-hour buying opportunities online. This year we saw the rise of the ‘Midnight Shopper’ and the 8-9am gifting hour as consumers eagerly waited for deals to hit so they could be the first to click ‘buy’. Both the Traffic and Conversion indices climbed steadily at the beginning of the season and remained well over the October baseline through December.
Between Black Friday and Christmas day, conversion indexed higher than traffic, indicating that once purchasing began, shoppers took less research time and made speedy checkouts. An Exterion report found that 61% of shopping searches came from mobile devices and winning brands offered flexible delivery and collection options. Amazon prime members could order up to 9.45pm on Christmas Eve for Christmas Day delivery and also took full advantage of the pre-Christmas sale. We were buying kettles and crisps, in addition to the traditional electronics and toy purchases, according to HookLogic.com
As ever, retailers spent heavily on emotive TV advertising. We fell in love with Mog’s Christmas Calamity (Sainsburys) and the Found It (Debenhams) campaign, both scoring above average in Millward Brown’s survey. Retailers were in a particularly playful mood, with a few successfully spoofing ads. Aldi’s version of John Lewis’ Man on the Moon seemingly had an effect on the supermarket’s bottom line, which was up 15% YoY.
So what would the ghost of Christmas future tell us?
Black Friday is only the beginning. In 2015, UK website visits across Black Friday week and Cyber Monday surpassed the 1billion mark and this will grow during Q4 2016.
We’ll be seeing Black Friday as a week-long event and advertising budget will be spread throughout the entire week, using an always on, 24/7 strategy.
Our Christmas media budgets will stretch to mid Jan to promote post-holiday deals, making the traditional festive season longer than ever.