Britain’s small shops beat the big chains during a bumper Christmas shopping season

By Jason Karaian

rtx16sf4.jpg?w=1160It’s no wonder online sales are soaring. Reuters/Olivia Harris

We recently reported on how Brits are among the world’s most enthusiastic Christmas shoppers. They lived up to their reputation during the latest holiday shopping season, with new data showing bumper December retail sales in the UK.

The country saw the strongest annual growth in nine years. By value, seasonally adjusted retail sales jumped by 6.1% in December, when compared with the previous year. Most analysts expected growth only half as strong.

At first glance, the data don’t square with the weak holiday trading results reported by some of the country’s largest retailers, including Tesco and Marks & Spencer. The details show why: Smaller stores trounced their bigger rivals over the holidays, in terms of growth.

This is encouraging news for campaigners against the spread of chains in city centers and the proliferation of out-of-town malls across Britain. But instead of a mom-and-pop shop revolution, it may simply signal another area in which British consumers excel: Online shopping. Internet retail sales rose by around 12% in December. Online sales now account for 11.8% of total sales in the UK.

Brits’ enthusiasm for online shopping—which is down, at least in part, to the country’s consistently horrible weather—opens the door for smaller firms to boost sales without big overheads. But don’t think that the bigger players are ignoring this trend. Web-savvy department stores like John Lewis reported robust Christmas sales. Online laggards, like Morrisons, are now scrambling to follow suit as they see their sales slide. The Davids of retailing may have got one over on the Goliaths this time, but the fight next Christmas is sure to be tougher.


About Framework Marketing Group

Framework Marketing Group has access to and is able to provide a range of co-ordinated creative thinkers…as and when you need them. It’s a marketing communications company with a toolbox of resources able to be used on an “on-demand” basis. The focus is on communication tools that evaluate brand strategies and interpret consumer behaviour to ensure a consistent and practical brand communications programme. Specifically: 1. Build strategic marketing plans: Understanding market data so strategic marketing plans have practical outcomes and communications to target markets are effective. 2. Communication audits From analysis of all messages – understand how customers really think and then recommend improvements to messages and media channel selection 3. Brand evaluations Establish how robust the brand equity is with each target market so communications to them is relevant 4. Integrate all communication channels Recommend an effective mix of communication channels to achieve economies of scale timing and content compatibility 5. Interpret market research Understand and fix gaps in market knowledge for consumers, customers and staff 6. Sales strategies Develop sales strategies from a foundation of core marketing platforms so all communications to market are complementary to each other
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