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Christmas to offer salvation for brands suffering from poor summer sales

While UK retail sales growth declined this summer, new research suggests that the Christmas season will be an opportunity to recoup lost sales. According to CJ Affiliate’s latest Holiday Intelligence Report, orders and revenue saw double or triple digit growth over the 2018 Christmas period.

While Black Friday continued to maintain dominance, boasting the most orders in one day, the report also revealed the emergence of other higher sales conversion periods that will likely play an even bigger role in 2019. The weekend following Black Friday saw more customer conversions from online ads, with order growth increasing by a third (33 per cent) and sales by almost a quarter (24 per cent). Cyber Monday on the other hand saw a 4 per cent decrease in order growth, demonstrating how British consumers like to shop in their free time at the weekend.

We have heard from our clients that it’s been a tough summer for many brands, leaving marketers with a strong desire to maximise returns during the rest of the year, especially over the Christmas period,” commented Jules Bazley, regional VP at CJ Affiliate. “To do this, marketers need to look beyond the recognised sales spikes during Black Friday and Cyber Monday and should instead play the long game this year, executing more balanced campaigns before, during and after the perceived Christmas season peak, with well-placed promotions to target the right consumers at the right time with the right content.”

According to the report, Brits also panic buy Christmas presents last minute, with the third week of December accounting for the greatest increase in orders and revenue growth year-on-year. This week boasted triple digit growth (111 per cent) in holiday orders in 2018 and almost doubled its revenue and share of holiday sales (45 per cent). Boxing Day sales continue to play an important role for British consumers, with year-on-year order growth matching that of Black Friday (20 per cent) last year and generating greater year-on-year revenue growth at 8 per cent, compared to 5 per cent growth on Black Friday.

Mobile rules in the UK

A growing trend in recent years, mobile devices have now officially overtaken desktops and Brits in particular like to shop on the go. Almost half (46 per cent) of UK holiday sales orders in 2018 were made on smartphones, beating purchases made on desktops for the first time and highlighting the need to not only push mobile-first marketing approaches but to also consistently ensure a great mobile user experience throughout the customer journey, including easy mobile checkout options, to convert more shoppers this year. Tablets, on the other hand, are losing popularity with Brits – usage is down 36 per cent compared with the previous year.

Mobile also dominated amongst publishers. Share of order and sales were boosted most by mobile publishers, followed by ad networks and social publishers who both boasted a 40 per cent increase in share of orders, demonstrating shoppers’ increasing reliance on shopping assistants, product reviews and product discovery platforms. In contrast, email publishers saw the biggest decline in order and revenue share.

“Mobile promotions and easy mobile checkout will win out this year,” concluded Bazley. “However, this alone will not cut it, consumers are savvier, carrying out their own research, checking reviews and they expect a lot more from their shopping experience. To really make the most of holiday season opportunities this year, marketers need to be executing campaigns that put consumers’ needs first through creating a seamless, holistic shopping experience across all devices.”

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