Strong Christmas Shopping Predicted Despite COVID-19 Worries

A new report has sparked some positive news for retail, with 70% of shoppers planning to spend as much money during the Christmas shopping period in 2020 as they did in 2019.

This comes from new research published by Ratuken Advertising, who interviewed a group of 8,673 people from across the world. The study found that despite 40% of those interviewed saying they have seen a decrease in household income during the pandemic, the majority (70%) of global shoppers won’t curtail their Christmas spending. Of those interviewed, 57% expect to be making Christmas purchases during key shopping dates like Black Friday. 

Looking at the UK specifically, the data demonstrated that 27% of shoppers are planning to increase the amount they spend on close family members, even though a large number of UK consumers have decreased their spending during coronavirus (49%). This is a much higher percentage than what was seen in other European countries, with German consumers lowering their spending by 28%, and French consumers spending 33% less.

Like in most countries, the UK has seen a surge in ecommerce, with 65% saying that they have done more online shopping during the pandemic. This behaviour looks likely to continue for the foreseeable future. 

A separate report from review site Bazaarvoice, which studied 6,200 brands found that Amazon’s prime day is set to be the catalyst for a wave of Holiday spending. Bazaarvoice believe that prime day will kick off the holiday shopping season, leading into dates like Black Friday. Currently, the exact date for Prime day is unknown but is expected to take place in either October or November.

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UK Retail Boosted By Store Openings 

Figures from ONS have shown overall retail sales grew 13.9% in June compared to May, with ecommerce continuing to be a major factor in retail sales, as well as the re-opening of many stores.

The Office For National Statistics said that “in June, total retail sales continued to increase to reach similar levels as before the pandemic, with a fall of just 0.6% when compared with February”. It is important to note that there were vast differences between sectors within retail. For example, Food store sales were up 5.3% compared to February, whereas non-food stores saw 15% fewer sales than in February. This was still a massive improvement from May, with the same non-food stores seeing an increase of 45.5% in June compared to May, due to the re-opening of many non-essential stores. 

Another report has looked at the way Covid-19 has effected consumer’s relationships with online shopping and found that from a group of 3,000 consumers, 71% said they were shopping online more than usual during the pandemic, and 48% believe they will continue to shop digitally much more. 

Of the respondents from the UK, 68% have shopped online at least once a week during Covid-19, while 47% bought groceries digitally for the first time. A large group (60%) said that they preferred purchasing items in the clothing & apparel category online during the pandemic

The importance of connecting with customers via social media was also highlighted in the report, with YouTube being described as “the dominant source of influence over our free time”. 

Popular Japanese App Could Be An Opportunity For Cross-Border Retailers

Line App

While Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and more dominate in Europe, Japanese consumers have turned to a different social media app during Coronavirus. 

The App is called Line, and with a user base of 185 million people, it has become the most popular app in Japan, and an essential resource for brands wishing to advertise products to the highly sought-after Japanese ecommerce market. 

In Japan, almost two-thirds of the entire population are monthly active users, and 86% of those people use the app daily. This is in a country where the Apparel and Footwear market is worth US$79 billion, making it the third most valuable market in the world for brands in this category. The data collected by the social media company allows marketers the ability to target in very specific ways, and tailor campaigns to segmented audiences. 

Ads currently generate over half of Line’s revenue, with the company receiving US$2.1 billion from advertisers during 2019. Impressions are also quite high, with Line recording 63.1 billion impressions on ads during Q4 of 2019, which was a 140% increase on the same time last year. 

While Social Media like Instagram and Snapchat are beginning to start launching ecommerce services, Line already has a fully developed ecommerce platform, with users able to complete purchases without leaving the app. This has been very helpful for Japanese user’s during the Covid-19 pandemic, as ecommerce became a vital part of everyday life. The app has also seen growth in other markets during the pandemic, like Thailand, Taiwan and Indonesia. 

For brands who wish to partner with the company, Line allow them to choose between traditional ads, branded stamps (known as stickers), and create official accounts. Messaging remains an important tool for brands on the platform, with the app allowing brands to notify customers of lanches, sales, and more, through push messages. This method tends to lead to high engagement, as the messages are seen in the same place as messages from friends and family. 

While Line is “definitely more for mass-market” communications, it can still benefit luxury brands when they’re trying to reach a broad audience and motivate them, said Maiko Shibata, creative director of Japanese multibrand retailer Restir, which sells luxury labels like Balenciaga, Burberry and Saint Laurent.

“When Chanel did an art exhibition in Tokyo, we could book a ticket via their Line account… attracting both premium and mass market [consumers],” she said. Also, “cosmetic brands such as Dior and MAC are promoting new items on Line, where they can reach a wider range of customers than on fashion sites.”