Pre-Christmas reporting suggested that this year would see more people shopping online over the holiday period than ever before. And with a 53% increase in mobile and tablet usage are we beginning to see Christmas Day’s significance as a key date in the retail calendar, to the extent that forecasts predicted?
That moment of disappointment when the present under the tree – you know, the one that looks like a box that would contain a multi-gadgeted, deep-sea scuba watch; the one you’ve picked up and put down, and studied and shaken; the one you’ve ear-marked as first for opening on Christmas morning, such is your excitement – when that present turns out to be a mug inscribed with a pithy remark about you being “the world’s most adequate husband”.
In days gone by I’d have used that mug to swallow my silent disappointment and cracked on with cooking the turkey. I’d have buried all thoughts of my scuba watch – or lack thereof – until the new year, wherein I’d hope I’d find it, cut-price, in the January sales.
But times have changed. And with questionable festive spirit, this year I slinked away to the kitchen, whipped out my phone and in five minutes I had the watch ordered, paid for, and destined for my mailbox courtesy of Amazon Prime. It arrived by December 27th.
Footfall was down, mobile was up
Before the holidays I wrote a piece outlining why retailers – like John Lewis – were investing so much time into their mobile sites. Part of the reason was that industry forecasts predicted that the three-day festive period would see huge amounts of online traffic – as much as a 15% increase YoY according to some. A week later and reports suggest that those predications were resoundingly recognised. As reported by Retail Week, footfall on UK high-streets was down by an average of 16.1%, yet online boasted a Boxing Day surge of 6.2%, suggesting that I was not the only culprit of a little retail self-indulgence.
Springboard insights director Diana Wehrle states that: “The ease and comfort of online shopping proved too enticing for shoppers keen to snap up further discounts in the sales, rather than bracing the cold outdoors.”
More people were looking to make a specific Christmas Day purchase
Our own study – based on output from 16 surveys across a mixture of high-street, fashion, and non-fashion retailers – concurs. Christmas Day saw a 53% increase in the usage of mobile and tablets compared with the last three months.
On top of this there was also a 27% increase of people visiting a site with the specific intention of making a purchase, suggesting that people shopping on Christmas Day are not so much in the mood for browsing, but for getting those last few things they’ve known they’ve wanted – by virtue of the modern Christmas culture that encourages us to create our wishlist – for months.
As Gregory Gazagne, EVP of digital advertising company Criteo, points out: “Consumers will be looking to grab bargains, avoid high street queues and buy themselves the gifts that they really wanted on 25th December – and most of them will be using their phones as their primary shopping device”.
Crispin Boon is the Research Director at Maru/edr, working on Voice of the Customer solutions across a number of key industries