Early online searches don’t translate into strong sales, admit retailers


The early interest of online shoppers in Christmas has exploded this year, with internet searches reaching as high as 600%.

But industry insiders have said I that few stores have seen the actual sales rush they were hoping for, despite urging Britons to shop earlier than normal – and analysts are warning retailers to be careful not to bring the season forward parties in the years to come, in case they trigger a “backlash”.

Supermarket chains started putting Christmas tarts and cakes on their shelves in mid-September, well before Halloween. John Lewis launched his online Christmas store even earlier in response to “skyrocketing” customer demand in August.

Marketing agency MediaVision, which tracks and analyzes research data online, observed an increase in party shopping searches from mid-July, six weeks before it expected to see this genre. activity.

The increase continued over the 12 weeks from July 31 with online searches for “Christmas turkeys” up 88% from the same period in 2020. 69 percent.

Kelly Askew, retail expert at consulting firm Accenture, attributes the early spike in searches for Christmas-related products to the pent-up excitement after the muted 2020 celebrations.

“There’s a very palpable feeling in the market that we missed Christmas last year – it was Christmas that wasn’t,” Askew said. But he warned that trying to bring the holiday season forward could backfire on retailers.

“I think it’s a fine line,” he said. “This year everyone will get a pass, but you run a little risk of a backlash when it starts to happen too soon. People are starting to feel that it is getting too commercial.

MediaVision chief executive Louis Venter also attributed the early research to last year’s Christmas cancellation for many families, as well as supply chain issues.

But an industry source who spoke to retailers said early Christmas general demand had not materialized: “No one said there were a lot of signs of a big rush. towards advance purchases, ”they said.

Retail consultant Andrew Busby also played down the idea of ​​a sales rush, saying a cost-of-living crisis could prevent online searches from translating into sales.

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Stores to raise prices before Christmas to offset “astronomical” shipping costs

“We were locked in last Christmas, so on the one hand you have the desire of consumers,” he said.

“But on the other hand, you have pressure on household budgets – heating costs are going up, inflation will hit 4%, the cost of gasoline is the highest on record.”

@kt_grant

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