According to new research from retail technology provider Aptos, Inc., retail stores have not lost their Christmas magic, as the high street remains the preferred destination for shoppers during the golden quarter.
In a poll of 2,000 UK consumers, Aptos found that of those respondents who prefer shopping on the high street at Christmas more than any other time of year, 71 per cent appreciate the physical experience of browsing and buying gifts.
The second most popular reason for preferring the high street was that shoppers enjoy visiting stores with family and friends, a factor cited by 31 per cent of respondents.
For UK retailers, there is a message that cannot be ignored: the store experience remains highly relevant in the most important shopping season of the year.
The research also found that:
- UK retailers can expect – and enjoy – a prolonged sales season. Consumers are starting their shopping earlier, with many of them not waiting until Black Friday to get started.
Women are the most eager in their quest to get the Christmas shopping done, targeting 30 November to conclude both online and in-store purchases. While men aim to have their online shopping done by 30 November, there is less urgency in picking out in-store gifts, citing 24 December as the date to wrap up their high street shopping.
- While stores haven’t lost their magic, UK consumers’ appetite for overhyped deal days are starting to wane.While discount days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to draw headlines in the media, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of respondents said they don’t wait for them.
There is, however, a notable difference in behaviour between men and women – 39 per cent of men said they wait for discount days compared to just 34 per cent of women. But more than three in five shoppers don’t wait. Why? The answer appears to come down to trust. Over half (54 per cent) of respondents said they don’t trust retailers to provide the best deals on these landmark sales days.
- Digital influence and inspiration cannot be ignored. While the majority of purchases will still be transacted in store, digital’s influence on total retail sales continues to climb, and this will hold true during the golden quarter. It’s perhaps no surprise to learn that when looking to find the best deals in the run-up to Christmas, 63 per cent of respondents spend time online browsing. Mobile experiences will also play a critical role – 39 per cent of respondents will use mobiles for inspiration, 28 per cent will leverage mobiles to check online prices while in store and 26 per cent plan to use mobiles to make purchases.
“The golden quarter, a sales period that runs from October to December, has always been a busy and profitable time for UK retailers, and thanks to a deepening understanding of customers’ omnichannel preferences and behaviours, as well as the revitalisation of store experiences, we expect the 2018 festive season to be particularly robust,” said Richard Willis, regional vice president, Aptos.
“Also, as our research shows, it’s vital that retailers stay focused on delivering what matters most to shoppers in the run-up to Christmas,” Willis continued. “Beyond price, which proved to be the most important factor for both online and in-store shoppers, respondents stated that for in-store purchases, deals and promotions are crucial [54 per cent], followed by the need for good stock levels [37 per cent]. For online orders, we see that after price, speed of delivery [50 per cent] is critical.”
“This festive season, and throughout the year, retailers that can deliver on customer expectations, reinvent their stores as experience centres and create meaningful connections with shoppers will thrive,” Willis noted.