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  • Writer's picturePaul Andrews

Boxing Day Sales To Come Back With A Bang?

Post-Christmas sales could be back in a bigger way for 2024 according to new research from PwC.

PwC Promotions data, which gathers information from 200 UK online retailers, points towards more widespread discounting over Black Friday and the potential for some good deals in the Boxing Day sales.

It suggests UK consumers are feeling the pinch and anticipated spending less on Black Friday and festive gifting and celebrations this year. But after a weak Autumn, marked by unseasonably warm then wet weather, retailers came out en masse and almost 90% discounted over Black Friday. This was similar to the level seen during the second national lockdown in 2020, when non-essential retailers were closed.

Participation increased across all categories including some luxury and high end brands participating for the first time. Black Friday offers also started earlier with around 10% more retailers in promotion mode from early November.

However, while more retailers held sales, the level of discounts was less generous than observed previously, and were typically targeted to specific brands or lines such as winter attire. As a result, some retailers may enter the run-up to Christmas with more stock than they had anticipated.

With so many consumers leaving the majority of their present shopping until December, trading in the few weeks up till Christmas will be critical for retailers hoping to cash in on the Golden Quarter. With 7% of shoppers saying that they will do most of their present shopping in the week before Christmas, the tills will be ringing right up to Christmas Eve, particularly for men, who are more than twice as likely to leave their shopping until the week before the big day.

PwC estimates that overall spending on presents and festivities will fall from £23bn to £20bn this year - down by 13% from 2022, with one in six planning to spend less this year. The £20bn figure amounts to roughly £400 per UK consumer - a drop of £40 per person spending from 2022. In addition, 6% more people say they do not intend to spend anything at all this year.

While consumers say they expect to spend less this festive season, there is a good chance that people will spend more than they think. This would be a similar pattern to last year where people on average ended up spending around 15% more (£3bn) than anticipated.

Lisa Hooker, PwC’s Consumer Markets Leader comments on trading for the festive season: “As we near Christmas Day it is all to play for as, whilst Christmas shopping started earlier this year, the majority of presents are still bought in December. But if shoppers are right and they do spend less, coupled with weaker Autumn sales and less interest in Black Friday, there could be deeper discounts as retailers clear seasonal stock after Boxing Day."

"This will be particularly true in categories such as big-ticket, home, DIY, electricals, and toys, which consumers told us were less important to them this Christmas than in previous years. So will shoppers go all out to make Christmas extra special as we saw last year when they spent more than expected, or wait for a bargain post Christmas?”


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