Post-Christmas sales offer boost to stores
2023-01-13 18:22:00  
Post-Christmas sales shopping on British high streets rose by almost 40 percent compared to the same day a year ago, statistics have shown, as consumers embraced the traditional bargain-hunting season with enthusiasm.

After the briefest of lulls for Christmas, many stores reopened on Dec 26, known in the United Kingdom as Boxing Day, expecting some of their busiest days of the year, and business was markedly busier than on Dec 26, 2021 when some pandemic restrictions were still in place.

Diane Wehrle, insights director at marketing research company Springboard, told the Evening Standard newspaper that good weather may also have encouraged shoppers to go out, and a coincidence of the calendar was working in shops' favor.

"Boxing Day in 2021 was on a Sunday … this meant a number of stores were closed and some would have had reduced trading hours," she said.

"As the day progresses, we are likely to see a smaller increase in footfall from 2021, however, given the scale of the uplift already recorded, the increase in activity from last year will remain significant."

Every crumb of comfort will be welcome for retailers who saw pre-Christmas footfall reduced because of poor weather and train strikes.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in the week up to Dec 18, overall footfall was down 6 percent on the previous week, and 23 percent down on figures from 2019, the last Christmas unaffected by the pandemic.

However, the cost-of-living crisis has also had an impact and overall Dec 26 footfall this year was 20 percent down on Dec 26, 2019.

"People are dealing with (the cost-of-living crisis), so a lot of people may rail back on going out on Boxing Day and spending money they perhaps don't need to spend," Wehrle told the BBC.

Inflation being at its highest in 40 years is also likely to restrict some consumers' spending instincts, as will the challenge of soaring energy bills.

"As we move into the new year, we expect consumers to be a bit cautious because, of course, the heating bills will still be to come for consumers and that will impact on their discretionary spending," explained Sarah Montano, a senior lecturer of marketing at the University of Birmingham.

Despite the growth and ease of online shopping, many shoppers still take part in the physical experience of going to the sales in the hope their money may go further, but many retailers did not even wait for Christmas to pass before starting their online sales.

Deann Evans, from e-commerce platform Shopify, told The Guardian newspaper that online sales could last longer than discounts in shops, which could have a major impact on the intensity of post-Christmas sales and people's spending behavior.

"This year, almost half of UK consumers are putting more money aside for the holiday season than they have done previously," she said. "We may, therefore, see sales subvert the traditional Boxing Day period, both creeping in earlier and extending deeper into January."