With the countdown to Christmas well and truly underway, retailers are hoping that the next few weeks will bring huge rewards. Each year, the Christmas period offers great promise to retailers, but will it deliver in 2015? We take a quick glance at some of the predictions for this festive season and what they mean for retailers.
For Christmas, we would like…
An abundance of shoppers in all of our stores
Just under half of us plan to do the bulk of our Christmas shopping in store. Unsurprisingly, click-and-collect services will have a crucial role in driving foot-fall into stores this Christmas. For some shoppers, click-and-collect represents the best of both worlds: the luxury of browsing for gifts at home and the satisfaction of walking out of store with a new purchase in hand. In view of this trend, it will be important for retailers to optimise the in-store experience and to ensure that click-and-collect services are convenient for customers.
…and plenty more buying online
Predictions suggest that more than half of our Christmas shopping this year will be done online. According to a survey by Adobe of 400 UK consumers, low prices and good deals are top reasons for shopping on the net. The survey also revealed that product reviews are becoming crucial in securing sales. Almost half of the respondents to Adobe's survey said that product reviews are a defining influence when considering a major purchase. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are hailed as favourite sources for product reviews, with 43 per cent of UK consumers reported to be using social media to guide their purchases, compared to only 25 per cent last year. It is key for retailers to recognise the power of social media in the customer journey and its ability to drive customers to, or indeed away from, the point of purchase.
Attractive discounts which will boost our sales
Black Friday resulted in record sales for retailers of £1.6bn across online and in-store sales. However, the reality is that this new trend may have unwanted consequences for retailers. Some retailers have warned that Black Friday encourages "binge shoppers" to spend all of their budget at once, resulting in decreased spending in the lead up to Christmas. According to data from the British Retail Consortium and the Sales Monitor by KPMG, the effect of Black Friday last year resulted in the lowest sales growth in December since 2008, with growth of only 1 per cent, and also led to and weaker pre-Christmas and Boxing Day sales. Interestingly, a number of larger retailers rejected Black Friday this year, opting instead to stretch out their discounts throughout the festive season.
Our goods to be delivered on time
It's worth remembering that delivery services are significantly strained during December. Earlier this year, the parcel carrier Yodel announced its intention to hire 7,000 temporary drivers to handle deliveries over Christmas, and online supermarket Ocado launched a major recruitment drive for 1,798 permanent staff to join the team before December. In fact Ocado, along with Waitrose.com, are reported to have contacted shoppers to encourage them to book Christmas deliveries some two months before Christmas Day. Preparation is the best way to protect against the risk of customer disappointment, and it will be important for retailers be realistic about their delivery times.
Well-stocked shelves to help meet customer demand
According to eBay, 79 per cent of consumers are likely to buy from another retailer when a product is out of stock. Running out of stock is a missed opportunity, but sometimes demand is tricky to predict. In 1996, no one foresaw the success of soft toy "Tickle Me Elmo", which in the run up to Christmas saw markups of 600 per cent due to lack of supply. Last year saw parents hunting for "Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa" dolls, which were sold out as soon as they hit the shelves. According to industry experts, interactive house "Toot-Toot Friends Busy Sounds Discovery Home" will snatch the top spot this year. "Disney Frozen Sing-A-Long Elsa" is predicted to take second place, whilst various Star Wars -themed toys also make the top ten.
… and don't forget the batteries!