December’s retail month included the final days of Cyber Week, namely Cyber Monday (26th of November). This peak sales day, along with the Christmas sales period, fell short of driving an overall uplift in online retail activity. Compared to last year, online retail visits dipped by 0.6%.
But this fall wasn’t across the board; a trend we have noted throughout the year. Food & Drink (+4.8% YoY), House & Garden (+3.8%) and Clothing, Fitness and Footwear (+0.7%) continued to outperform the previous year. The largest decline was seen among Consumer Electronics specialists (-5.7%), with consumers increasingly searching for and purchasing the latest gaming consoles, smart tech and mobile devices on multi-category retailers. Health & Beauty also saw a drop of 1.7% in December, compared to its 2.3% rise in November, indicating the category’s shift toward Black Friday sales from Christmas sales.
Like November’s results, the “quality” of online retail traffic has improved. The proportion of visits that led to a purchase has risen. Conversion rates grew 11.5% YoY in the two weeks before Christmas (3.7% average rate) and 8.4% YoY in the week of Christmas (2.8% average rate). Top retailers have converted more customers online, but the question remains on their profitability, as many advanced their Christmas promotions to early December.
But discounting wasn’t the only method to attract and convert customers online. The end of 2018 pointed to a number of positives, particularly how consumers became increasingly conscious of sustainability. The number of people searching for veganism, clean energy and ethical fashion all grew by over 10% year-on-year. People searching for “single use plastic” was also up 219% over the last quarter YoY.
From pledges to tackle microfibres to the expansion of vegan food ranges, a number of retailers and brands have successfully capitalised on these evolving trends. These conversations aren’t likely to disappear in 2019. The most successful retailers will be the ones who truly understand what their consumers want and expect, and are able to adapt accordingly.
You can also save your seat for our Christmas Unwrapped Webinar here! We deep-dive and unravel key insights from Black Friday, Cyber Week and the Christmas sales periods.
To learn more about these insights, get in touch with us today.