Singles Day spreads to UK as festive shopping period gets longer

Nov 8, 2019 | E-commerce

As we approach Singles Day this Monday the 11th November shopping behaviours are changing and that China’s Singles Day is now but part of a wider “Golden Quarter of increased sales starting from October and running until the end of the year.

Criteo research shows that over half of UK shoppers indulge in self-gifting, and at the same time feel less pressure to splurge on traditional sales days such as Black Friday, instead opting to wait for the right price or item over this longer period of increased sales. Retailers that understand these changing behaviours, and have the ability to properly put into context the sales peaks of the Golden Quarter stand to benefit from new trends such as the Chinese-led shopping day.

The festive season is a period when shopper spending habits change from essential buys to bargain hunting, gift buying and luxury purchases. According to data from Criteo’s network of EMEA retailers, top selling items during the period include high tech items (+373%), beauty products (+333%), fashion (+317%), and sporting goods (+307%).

Online and new retail sales rituals during the last three months of the year, the “Golden Quarter”, have also transformed shopper expectations and behaviours, who now expect to find just the right deal or shopping experience for them, at any time.

Two thirds of UK shoppers agree that promotion, price, or discount have an effect on their purchasing decisions, while almost half (41%) of UK shoppers demonstrate a shift towards conscious consumerism basing purchasing decisions on brands they closely identify with. This category of consumer wants the best value, but the decision to buy will ultimately be determined by whether or not the product or brand fits with the beliefs and values that are important to them.

These increasingly complex shopping behaviours see consumers embracing the ‘Golden Quarter’ as a cycle of promotions from which to cherry pick the right bargains for them, no longer one-off, must-buy mega sales days.

Sales begin to steadily increase starting in October and peak as we reach Black Friday which remains hugely popular across the EMEA region, recording annual average growth of 117%. Last year, Black Friday saw an increase of 454% in sales and Cyber Monday 411%, bookending what is now known as the “Golden Weekend”. Criteo data has revealed a third peak during the Golden Weekend on “Hidden Sunday” (336%) revealing more shoppers are making their purchases outside of the traditional sales periods.

The popularity of promotional events during this period continues to grow, giving retailers a chance to multiply business opportunities and boost their performance. This growth is backed in a recent Criteo survey by 67% of retailers who expect sales to increase in Q4.

Sales expectations are equally matched by an increase in the annual marketing spend. However, the motivations behind marketing budget increases is not uniform with responses split fairly evenly between the ability to achieve targets (38%), keep up with the competition (37%), and expectations of annual sales growth as the top three reasons (36%).

“Certainly, the opportunity to increase sales and improve performance during the Golden Quarter is not going away any time soon. But there are subtle changes year-on-year that require retailers to ensure that their strategy has the inbuilt agility and flexibility to cope with changes that occur across all phases of the festive journey and account for increasingly complex consumer shopping behaviours,” commented John Gillan, MD Northern Europe and UK, Criteo.

“Using next generation technology such as Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, reams of data can be assembled quickly into clear picture of consumer behaviour and preferences more quickly. The businesses that innovate their use of data to gain a more complete view of their shopper will survive and thrive in this era of shopping.”

Study Methodologies

  • Indexed values based on average sales in the first four weeks of October (1-28) 2018. All retail. EMEA. Criteo data
  • Criteo, Why We Buy Survey, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United-Kingdom. July 2019
  • Festive Season Insights 2019, Black Friday Data, Hour by Hour
  • Criteo Festive Season Shopping Trends 2019
  • Festive Season Report 2019: Why Experience Matters More Than Ever
  • Criteo Marketer Survey, June 2019

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