Research lifts lid on Golden Quarter shopping habits

In years gone by, landmark retail days such as the Boxing Day sales would generate hysteria amongst UK shoppers. More recently, events like Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and even Christmas Day sales have extended the sale season to create a golden quarter for the retail industry.

In effect, we’re now seeing a three-month sales period that runs from October right through to December. Attitudes to the growing list of sales events are undoubtedly changing, with major brands such as Apple, Selfridges, Ikea and Primark actively withdrawing from Black Friday last year.

Services and solutions provider, Aptos, has shed light on how UK shopping behaviour is shifting throughout this crucial trading season via a survey of 2,000 British adults.

When it comes to Christmas and the golden quarter, the high street has an important role to play. This influence is driven, in part, by the in-store experience, which remains key for many shoppers.

When shopping for Christmas, price proved to be the most important factor for both online (70%) and in-store (71%) shoppers.

63% of respondents spend time online browsing, but for people who like to shop on the high street more at Christmas than any other time of year, seven in ten (71%) prefer the physical experience of browsing and buying gifts.

The appeal of the high street goes beyond just shopping. The second most popular reason (31%) cited was that shoppers enjoy going with family and friends. For retailers there is a message that cannot be ignored: the store experience remains highly relevant in the most important shopping season of the year

Women are consistent across online and in-store, they want to have all their Christmas shopping done by 30th November, leaving plenty of time to wrap those presents. Men also aim to have their online shopping done early, with the most popular day being 30th November. However, men have a very different approach to their in-store shopping. The most popular date they’d like to have their high street shopping all wrapped up is 24th December, proving that it’s never too late.

For in-store shoppers, deals and promotions are crucial (54%) followed by the need for good stock levels (37%). Having found the gift they’re looking for, shoppers don’t want to leave the store empty handed. For online purchases we see that after price, speed of delivery (50%) is critical. With an immovable deadline, shoppers need to know that their gifts will arrive in time

While discount days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday continue to draw headlines, almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents said they don’t wait for them, although men are slightly more likely to wait for discount days than women.

For the more than three in five shoppers who don’t wait, over half said they don’t trust retailers to provide the best deals on these landmark sales days.

While mobile sales are widely recognised to be on the up, it wasn’t the purchasing channel of choice for many of the respondents, with mobiles being valued more as research, price check and validation tools or, for women especially, seeking inspiration.

When asked where they look for gift inspiration in the run-up to Christmas, browsing, both online and in-store, came out on top for the respondents. Despite the widespread use of social media, platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram don’t come anywhere near top of the list, with just 11% saying they use the Instagram platform for this purpose

However, Instagram is still an important factor. For 18-24 year-olds, 33% used Instagram for gift inspiration, decreasing to 2% for 25-34 year-olds, 8% for 35-44 year-olds and lower for those aged 45 and older. While an Instagram campaign won’t work for all retailers, for those with a target demographic of 18-24 year-olds, it can prove to be a useful tool.

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