The financial burden of Christmas may finally be taking its toll on us, after a survey found that almost a quarter of Britons intend to buy their Christmas presents in the January Sales this year. The survey, conducted by comparison site uSwitch, discovered that nine in ten consumers reported that they had seen presents they had bought for Christmas reduced in the sales only days later.
The tradition of the January sales stretch back for generations, as retailers look to cajole customers into parting with their newly acquired cash and gift vouchers with the offer of huge post-Christmas savings. Last year some shoppers were reported to have queued for up to 12 hours, notably in Selfridges on Oxford Street in London, to be the first ones through the doors on Boxing Day for the post-Christmas sales.
The sense of pride and prestige the consumer feels from purchasing an expensive item at sale price is a lot of what drives this trend – as well as the basic principle of having the opportunity to make any savings possible in the current harsh economic climate. In fact, not all of those surveyed that said they would be giving presents post-Christmas was simply because they were cash-strapped; a fifth of participants cited the principle of being able to get more for their money as the driving force for this decision.
Consumers who took part in the survey estimated that they would save more than £40 on average – with some claiming they could even make savings to the tune of £100. The idea of giving gifts after Christmas is certainly a new concept; in years gone by it was deemed essential for consumers to get their gifts in place and to their recipient’s pre-Christmas. For this reason, many retailers heavily position their pre-Christmas sales pitch on the principle of being able to guarantee delivery by Christmas, as this has always been a key proposition to consumers. It would appear, however, that the economic climate has driven many to a new dynamic out of necessity. Indeed, 40% of participants stated they simply could not afford to buy Christmas presents, suggesting the decision has been taken out of their hands.
Therefore now, more than ever, the post-Christmas sales could prove to be crucial to retailers in order to cash in on the sales they may have missed out on pre-Christmas.
Making a commitment to guarantee pre-Christmas delivery is one of the most important promises that a company will make all year. For many of us, Christmas is one of the biggest events of the year and households all over the world strive to ensure that the 25th December is the perfect festive occasion. A key ingredient of this is making sure that all gifts for friends and families are in place so as to avoid the embarrassment of having to inform your loved one that their Christmas present is “in the post”. Twenty years ago consumers didn’t have the same issue – at least, not to the same extent. Before the internet was such a mainstream tool for shopping, customers would have no choice other than to visit the physical retail outlets and come away with the goods they have purchased in-hand. In some instances deliveries would then need to occur, but only a fraction in comparison to the modern day.
Internet shopping has proved to be a much more accessible way to shop as it allows a customer to instantly compare prices across hundreds of stores within seconds, ensuring that they secure the best prices possible. For those of us with large families we know only too well how expensive Christmas can be, so any money saved is a huge bonus – which is why such a high percentage of consumers now do their Christmas shopping online. The downside of this is that 99% of all orders will have to be delivered to your doorstep; this then takes out of your hands the physical date that you will have the goods in your possession.
Subsequently there is a lot of trust placed upon the retailer by the consumer, so the pressure is on for them to deliver on their guarantee. Failure to do so will likely cause a huge amount of upset and negative feelings towards the company, as it will potentially ruin an individual’s Christmas. The introduction of the internet and online review sites allows customers to express their goodwill or displeasure towards a company and its services online instantly – which is then immediately accessible to millions of users worldwide. This has created even more of an emphasis on the modern day business to ensure they offer the highest levels of customer service, as one false move could cause their reputation to be jeopardised in a matter of minutes.
For those companies that fulfil their promises and ensure all goods are delivered before Christmas as guaranteed, the holiday season will prove to be a fruitful period – both financially, as well as enhancing their reputation as a reliable retailer that consumers can trust. This kind of reputation is absolutely priceless to a company, so the importance of this commitment cannot be underestimated.