The run up to Christmas 2012 has been record-breaking for the retail industry according to many recent reports, with retailers continuing to report record sales as Christmas approaches. Such records included:
- Retailers such as Laura Ashley, John Lewis and Supergroup all reported profit rises and increased sales, with John Lewis taking £147.8m across its multichannel operation in just 7 days.
- For the first time spending has topped the £8 billion mark in a single month, for November this year.
- Year-on-year growth for the clothing sector improved from 12% in October to 20% in November, the strongest recorded for the sector in 2012.
There have also been several interesting shifts in the industry, including changing consumer behaviour through the Christmas period. For example the use of technology when shopping has consistently risen as more and more festive shoppers use the internet, smartphones and tablet devices to shop in the run up to Christmas. Customers are also leaving their shopping later and later, with many shopping during the final week and weekend and some leaving it until the last minute on December 24th, consistently confused and distressed males!
This has likely prompted an increasing number of online retailers to offer next-day delivery, click & collect and later last order dates. Additionally new delivery services such as Shutl and Collect+ are proving extremely popular with retailers and consumers during this period to efficiently guarantee delivery before Christmas.
A rising number of consumers are shopping on Christmas Day - spending vouchers, buying accessories for their latest gadget, apps for their smartphones or e-books for their brand new e-reader. This has led many retailers to adapt their behaviour and replace traditional January sales with straight-after-Christmas sales. John Lewis’ online clearance will begin on Christmas Eve and Amazon plans to start its Boxing Day deals on Christmas Day. However many sales have started a full week before Christmas, for example Nicole Fahri, Clarks and Boden are already discounting by as much as 50%.
However among all this purchasing, don’t forget about the huge volumes of returns! We will be watching eagle-eyed to see how this affects the industry in early 2013.