Manic Monday – is it all hype, or, will the UK spend c. £537million online today (29/11/10)

This morning at 7:30am I had the very great pleasure (hmm) of standing on St Peter’s Street, St Albans, in -2 degrees C with the BBC 3 Counties radio outside broadcast crew – why? To discuss “Manic Monday” (as it has been called by shopping comparison site Kelkoo) – the day when the UK will spend more money online than ever before…

Centre for Retail Research forecast around £22.4 million per hour will be spent online on Monday 29th November 2010!

Following Black Friday (I’m still awaiting news to see what effect bringing this American tradition to the UK has had…) we now have “Manic Monday”. The 2010 online sales are forecast to be about 29-30% higher than the equivalent day last year.

On the face of it you might assume this to be a great sign of consumer confidence returning, but digging a little deeper, overall sales this Christmas compared to last are not so remarkably improved. What we can therefore read into these figures is that there is an increasing preference to shop online…

Does this increasing preference for shopping online mark the demise of the high street as we know it?

I was asked on the shop this morning what the impact of this shift to online would be on the traditional “bricks and mortar” retail. There are 2 things to consider:

1. Even though there has been incredible growth in online sales, and consumers are increasingly comfortable purchasing online, this Christmas of the £68.7 Billion sales forecasted online only represents 22% of that – meaning 78% is going through other channels, predominantly shops.

2. Retail stores are a critical component in a multi-channel service proposition – from providing consumers access to products to being a collection hub for online orders… Although over the years retail outlets may shift in terms of focus and become show rooms, stocking locations and order fulfilment hubs, they will always serve a purpose.

So in summary, it will be a long time before online over takes the high street, it certainly won’t be the demise of the high street, but we may see the traditional role of a retail shop evolving over the years…

What of high street retail this Christmas – when it that all anticipated to peak?

Over the past 4-5 years the peak of Christmas sales has been shifting closer and closer to Christmas day. In part this has been fuelled by nervous retailers, keen to ensure they sell through of seasonal merchandise, going into sale before Christmas day. This of course then becomes a bit of a game of “chicken” with the consumers – who are waiting until the last minute to make the majority of their purchases, knowing that the longer they keep their cash in their pockets the more nervous the retailers become… the consumer effectively is forcing retailers into sale and as a result is benefiting by buying last minute.

This year Saturday 18th of December, the last Saturday before Christmas day, has been dubbed “Panic Saturday” as consumers who have been holding out to see if the retailers crumble first, and go into sale, will have to hit the shops to finalise their shopping…

It is predicted that on that 1 day alone, £1.11 billion sales will be recorded – an astronomic £764,000 per minute!

So, will the retailers cave in and go on sale ahead of Christmas this year?

It is hard to predict – some have already got some significant reductions on key seasonal lines. Others are running more typical voucher promotions, weekend events and 3 for 2 on gifts…

We’ll have to wait and see if retailers brave it out and only go into sale mode after the predicted peak on 18th December…

Finally, what about consumers? Are they changing their Christmas shopping habits to get more value for money nowadays?

I can only comment from personal experience – what I see happening is that a great deal more cash gifts being given – meaning the spending spree is happening from Boxing day, when the sales really are in full swing. Of course this does mean the money goes further, where items are in stock… for those who really want a “must have” item, they’re going to have to swallow the pill and pay full price, or maybe wait several weeks for items to come back into stock – if they do at all.

Happy “Manic Monday” 🙂


About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email
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3 Responses to Manic Monday – is it all hype, or, will the UK spend c. £537million online today (29/11/10)

  1. Interesting article. Astonishing figures. We really are a nation of shop keepers, aren’t we?

  2. clarerayner says:

    We certainly enjoy our shopping – reports show that UK shoppers outspend all of the European countries when it comes to Christmas… this arcticle may interest you!

  3. clarerayner says:

    Ps – If you are interested in hearing the radio feature follow this link – if you scroll to 1 hr 34 mins into the show you’ll get right to it 🙂

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