A Retail Christmas 2011: Planning ahead for an #indiexmas !

It may seem a little early to start talking about what to expect from Christmas 2011 in retail; but the major retailers were probably planning Christmas since February! As it’s practically November already, it’s time to get your santa-hat on (festive thinking cap – that’s my attempt at a pun) and consider what sales, footfall and the mix between online and high street / in-store is going to be.

When is the Christmas seasonal peak in retail?

The traditional Christmas seasonal peak has been happening later and later in the past years, as consumers try to play a poker-game with the retailers, holding back from spending in case the retailers’ nerves cave in and they go into sale before the traditional post-Xmas period. This behaviour seems to have been fuelled by the major players who have, in the last few years, gone into sale BEFORE Boxing Day.

I would predict that with Christmas day being a Sunday will push the peak even further back, with the main shopping days being from Saturday 17th December and the full week running up to Christmas weekend; which is after most of the schools have broken up. The vast majority of spending will happen on the weekend of 17th & 18th December although retailers can expect to see the last-minute shopper (the gentlemen typically :-)) racing round the shops on Saturday 24th if they’re not otherwise tied up entertaining family!

What about online – the dynamic is very different

Online is indeed very different. The peak period for online sales typically be the first 2 weeks of December. Few online orders will be placed beyond Monday 19th December as retailers will be closing off delivery windows and almost none will be able to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas, given the volumes they’re dealing with, at that point in time.

In 2010 the heavy snow added a new concern to those who’d made online orders; so if we see snow again this year it might make consumers reluctant to order online because they want confidence that their online purchases will be delivered in time (which wasn’t the case in 2010). If the weather is poor that’s good news for the high street as consumers will head to their most local retail centres to make their purchases.

There is always a debate about which date will be the biggest for online transactions, in the past it has been the first or 2nd Monday of December. We’ll have to wait and see what happens this year.

Key things to consider for smaller, independent retailers this Christmas

If I could give you just 3 things to focus on this Christmas (and this is for store-based retailers specifically) then it would be:

  1. Get the window right – use vibrant displays and engaging promotions – this will draw passing footfall into your store
  2. Get the service right – make sure you have sufficient, competent staff cover to assist customers making their purchases and to avoid queues at the till.
  3. Get the stock out onto the shop floor – customers won’t ask “do you have this item…. ” if the shop is busy, and they’re short of time, if they can’t find product on the shop floor, whether you’ve got it or not, you won’t be selling it!

#IndieXmas – Celebrate buying Christmas Gifts from local, independent retailers

Finally, and as a result of a debate on Twitter, the team at Skillsmart Retail (behind Independents’ Day) and I (behind Independent Retailer Month) have decided to spread the word of a special #-tag  – #IndieXmas. We want to remind consumers that if they want really special, unique gifts AND the kinds of special, unique service that they would expect to get from their friendly, local, independent… then they NEED to start planning to buy their gifts from Independent Retailers this Christmas!

#IndieXmas is something you can use to let everyone know about special offers on special items in YOUR stores and, we hope, that it will create some excitement around Christmas shopping, making it less of a chore and more of a pleasure!

Here’s to a very successful, Indie Xmas!

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 champion@retailchampion.co.uk.
This entry was posted in Independent Retailer Month 2011, Seasonal Retail, The Retail Champion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Retail Christmas 2011: Planning ahead for an #indiexmas !

  1. Clare Rayner says:

    Looks like Amazon predict the online BIG day to be 5th December – http://www.retailgazette.co.uk/articles/21021-december-5th-to-be-biggest-online-shopping-day?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter – so that ties in with my thoughts on it being the first or 2nd Monday!!!

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