The tradition of Christmas shopping on the high street could be about to come to an end

Stuart McClure
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Shoppers On Oxford Street On The Last Saturday Before Christmas
Oxford Street was so quiet you had room to take a selfie (Source: Getty)

We’ve come to that time in the New Year when retailers and investors alike look back on the data accumulated by shops throughout the Christmas season.

Next was the first retailer to release the data and it wasn’t great news – either for them or for other high street retailers, as we had disappointing updates from everyone from Marks & Spencer to Sports Direct.

Overall, footfall across Britain’s high street tumbled by four per cent year-on-year in December, as deal-driven shoppers went online instead. It’s been suggested by some retail commentators that the latest festive season was a pivotal moment for e-commerce.

Our most recent survey found that the majority of shoppers go online specifically to save money. During the Black Friday and Christmas periods, a whopping 80 per cent of people said they wouldn't click ‘buy’ unless the item came with a reduced price tag.

Retailers know that the internet has allowed consumers to become more savvy when shopping, especially after the most recent recession. This has hit their bricks and mortar heavily and many retailers now use discounts and sales periods to drive extra sales.

As a result, the last few years have seen big changes in shopping behaviour, including a big shift towards deals bonanza Black Friday - 61 per cent of our survey's respondents bought Christmas gifts during the Black Friday weekend. Although this is a new date in the diary, it's not a new phenomenon: until recent years Manic Monday was the traditional rush for shoppers buying their gifts.

Interestingly though, it’s not only traditional sales periods when consumers can find great prices on new products. The data shows that deals can be found every day of the year, with 10-15 per cent of all retail products being reduced in price every day of the year.

Post-Black Friday traffic online reduced, but 80 per cent of the fashion items that went on sale that weekend remained discounted throughout the whole of December.

There was also a significant rise in the overall volume of discounted price products available in the second week of December, as retailers looked to gain extra customers shopping for Christmas gifts. And perhaps most surprising of all, the overall volume of discounted fashion products did not rise for the Boxing Day sales.

In fact, our data reveals that on any day of the year, between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of all retail products are reduced in price, which means that consumers no longer need to hold out for the key sales periods to save money.

As online choices expand and become more simple and accessible, it is inevitable that online spending will grow – perhaps with it, the tradition of Christmas shopping on the high street is about to come to an end.

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