Christmas 2018 has been called ‘an online Christmas’ by Retail Excellence, whose logistics partners reported a 23.5% increase in like for like parcel volumes in the past two months - ‘off a reasonably high base’.
According to the group’s Christmas Trading Statement, Visa also reported a 12% increase in online shopping in November as well as a 4.3% decline in face-to-face transactions.
It claimed that Black Friday contributed heavily to this result. There was a 5% decline in footfall in November, which recovered somewhat in December, but late weather warnings kept shoppers at home.
A worrying trend that emerged from the Black Friday phenomenon, from an Irish retailer's point of view, was that many Irish shoppers opted for international retailers.
Some 70% of online shoppers were in favour of foreign retailers, leaving logistic companies with their busiest November and December on record.
Online spending plummeted however in the final week before Christmas, as most companies could not guarantee delivery before the big day.
Grocery & Alcohol
From the 1 to 18 of December, Grocery and Alcohol sales were ‘reasonably buoyant’ despite intense competition in the grocery market.
From the 19 to the 24 of December, the sector enjoyed a blockbuster weekend, RE said, with a significant increase in average trolley spend, due to 'significantly enhanced demand for premium food ranges'.
Interest in premium food ranges was recognised as a growing trend in the sector, driven mainly by social media, grocery operators claim, and the proliferation of food content.
In the first two weeks of the month, the Café/ Food-to-go sector reported marginal loses which fell further in the final run-up to Christmas.
Weather warnings added uncertainty to the market which was already brittle, as well as a reduced footfall on the back of a big November spend.
“The last five days to Christmas Eve have traded well with the extra day an added bonus and the psychology of having three full shopping days before Christmas Day, when most people were on annual leave, did have a very positive impact on footfall and spending,” David Fitzsimons, CEO of Retail Excellence said.
“However the retail environment this Christmas has been very challenging with most sectors recording little change from the same period in 2017.”
© 2019 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.