Christmas Shopping: The focus will now be shifting away from online… are you ready? #Indieretail #Indiexmas

We were told that Monday 3rd December 2012 was Mega Monday (or Cyber Monday as others call it). Apparently on this single day up to £10,000 per second was being spent online. There are always forecasts like this, and always on the first Monday of December. I’ve never seen a retrospective analysis to determine if it’s true or not, but what I do know is that once Cyber Monday (or mega Monday) has been and gone the focus of Christmas shoppers begins to move away from online and toward physical shop-based retailers…

Good news for shop-based retailers… Footfall is about to start increasing as shoppers switch from online to in-store for their Christmas purchases

In recent years we’ve seen the high street chains go into Christmas sale before Christmas – something unheard of about 5 years ago. We’ve also seen (in 2010 in particular) a number of orders placed online fell victim to bad weather conditions preventing deliveries from getting through. With these 2 factors in mind smart consumers are doing 2 things:

  1. Buying online earlier – to ensure their deliveries are with them in good time for Christmas.
    1. This will be front of mind in 2012 as we’ve already had a few flurries of snow across the vast majority of the South East and around Manchester, so metropolitan, high population density areas, where online shopping is favoured will be mindful of the risk of their purchases not being delivered in time.
  2. Holding off doing their Christmas shopping until much later, with the peak footfall to the shops usually the very last weekend / days before Christmas.
    1. With Christmas day falling on a Tuesday it means that the final weekend, the weekend of 22nd and 23rd, is likely to be HUGE (and also the weekend when people buy all their fresh food as well…)

So, whilst mega Monday might be a peak day, the online sales fall away after that, rather rapidly. That means that there are a whole load of consumers who have yet to do any of their Christmas shopping, and the vast majority of these will need to hit the high street.

To discount or not to discount, that is the question so many Independent retailers are asking me…

With many chains already going into sale mode many independent retailers are feeling a certain amount of pressure to follow suit. My view is that as you have not yet seen the vast majority of footfall (I would predict that happens on the weekends of 15th/16th and 22nd/23rd December) then it would be crazy to discount now. If you have great, desirable products, fairly priced, well merchandised and if you can offer a wonderful shopping experience (perhaps a free wrapping service, perhaps a buy now, collect later service) then you’ll not alienate the shoppers who want what you have got.

However, and for those independents who sell more “commodities” (easily compared products, branded items for example or commonly available items), then it’s a different story… if the your local competition is heavily discounted and you are holding out for full price you might be missing out on selling an item at all, even if the margin isn’t great.

So it’s a case of be aware of what’s going on, be mindful of what your customers will expect, make sure the experience you offer is “a cut above”, and you’ll hopefully make the right judgement about discounting, or not.

Prepare for the peak weekends – stock up, spruce up, get festive, bring in extra staff…

So, given these last 2 weekends before Christmas are likely to have the highest footfall (especially since few online retailers will be guaranteeing delivery by Christmas on orders placed after 15th due to the overload on couriers and postal services) you need to be ready to make the most of it. Here are a few top tips:

  1. Get as much of your seasonal stock out on the shop floor before you open as possible – you can’t sell what they can’t find and you don’t want sales staff away from the shop floor, stocking up, when you are busy.
  2. Make the windows look super inviting – make the display enticing, engaging and really draw them in – you can even have someone outside, inviting people in for a hot drink and mince pie to warm up while they browse – it won’t cost you much to offer but is a really welcome touch, especially in the bitterly cold weather!
  3. Make sure you’ve got lots of staff on hand – to assist customers, to sell, to wrap and (sad to say it) to make sure if the shop gets very busy you are not the victim of shoplifting.
  4. Think about what you can do to make the customer decide to buy from you rather than elsewhere – what are your key value-adds? Is it unique product? Locally produced / Made in UK / Handmade? Is it the service? Gift wrapping / Deliver to their home that evening / Hold for later collection / Extended refund policy or warranties?
  5. Make it fun – put the festive music on, have some mistletoe in the doorway, wear festive hats, dress up – if your shop looks like the most fun place to be on the high street, a haven of fun, warmth and festive joy, people will want to spend a little longer there, even if they are working against the clock to finish their gift shoppingchristmas shopping

So, lots of ideas and I am sure you have plenty more too. The key is to make the most of those 2 big weekends when footfall should be noticeably increased…. and to make it a very merry, Indie, Christmas!

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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.
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2 Responses to Christmas Shopping: The focus will now be shifting away from online… are you ready? #Indieretail #Indiexmas

  1. Cordelia says:

    Hello Clare,

    I enjoyed reading this entry, and have started following your blog as it discusses many of the subjects that are written about on http://www.shopperdiscountsrewards.org. This blog in particular is similar to our one about Christmas shopping trends: http://shopperdiscountsrewards.org/2012/10/31/retail-and-christmas-shopping-trends-what-to-expect/

    As the blogs follow the same subjects of retail and online shopping trends, would you like to share each others blogs?

    If you are interested please just comment on my blog.

    Thanks!

    Cordelia

    • Clare Rayner says:

      Apologies for not replying and approving your comment sooner, for some reason I thought I had via my phone app and yet online I discover it still sits in the unapproved. Thanks for your comments

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