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With the festive break all but a distant memory, we have taken the opportunity to look back at our stats across the network for the run up to Christmas as well as the post Christmas sales.

As a company running affiliate campaigns for around half of the UK’s largest retailers as well as over 1,000 SMEs, we are able to interrogate our data to provide some insights into general retail trends over the Christmas and New Year period.

There were a number of predictions and subsequently reports of the largest online shopping days and in this post we are able to look across our advertiser base to identify the peak trading periods.

With consumer behavior shifting and mobile commerce playing a more prominent role, we also look at the device trends during this time.

Cyber Monday

Having adopted the US tradition of Cyber Monday (the Monday following ‘Black Friday’ – itself the term given to the Friday after Thanksgiving), it was widely anticipated this would be the largest day for online shopping.

Cyber Monday in the UK falls on the first Monday in December. This year this fell on the 3rd December and has also been referred to as ‘Mega Monday’ (see our infographic). 

Looking at the stats across the network, it is evident that the widely anticipated peak on Monday 3rd December was prevalent. We recorded the highest volume of transactions by a considerable margin when compared against the rest of this period.

We did see a lower average order value although this is not particularly surprising considering a number of advertisers across the network were offering discounts to stimulate consumer activity during this peak period.

After we had seen ‘Mega Monday’ come and go, the predictors were again out in force. Not content that Monday 3rd was the peak, further predictions sited the following Monday (10th) and even the Monday after that (17th).

With consumer confidence growing in the ability to still receive deliveries in time for Christmas and last delivery dates becoming later and later, an anticipated spike in online sales was predicted to occur a lot later than ‘Mega Monday.’

Having looked at our data, it is evident that Mega Monday was the pinnacle for our advertiser base. Looking at Monday 10th December, this was some way behind ‘Mega Monday’ in terms of transaction volumes and was only the third biggest volume driver in December (also behind Thursday 6th December).

Despite a number of predictions pinpointing the 17th as being a peak period for sales, our data indicates otherwise. This was considerably lower than the previous Monday and well below the ‘Mega Monday’ peak.

From the 17th of December we saw the sales volumes drop off, not surprising considering last delivery dates for Christmas were being met. We did however see sales pick up once again on Christmas Eve.

Post-Christmas sales 

With online retailers entering their sales periods earlier each year, Boxing Day and the 27th December also saw sales peaks. Hitwise has reported that Boxing Day was the busiest day online in 2012 in terms of traffic, and our sales figures back up that it was a peak period for retailers, albeit someway below the peaks in the run up to Christmas.

It is also evident that average order values post Christmas were higher than we had seen prior to Christmas day. The peak was on 1st January with an AOV of £77.69.

Consumers were taking advantage of the post Christmas sales to purchase higher ticket items and also added more products to their basket with the savings they were making.

 

Device trends

We have also been able to understand the devices that have been driving these trends. With a number of smartphones and tablet devices being given as gifts, it is no real surprise that we saw traffic and sales through mobile devices peak on Christmas Day.

Just under 23% of sales through the network were generated through mobile devices on Christmas day with 8.4% of sales coming through mobile handsets – the largest percentage of sales since we have been monitoring our mobile activity over the past two years.

Traffic through mobile devices also peaked on Christmas Day, although tablet traffic was higher on Boxing Day than Christmas Day.

This has been reflected across the industry with a number of outlets reporting an increase in mobile traffic and transactions over the Christmas period.


 
(Share of sales by device)

Throughout December and into January we have seen tablet traffic peak at weekends – indicating that tablet devices are the primary option when at home.

This is a trend that continued over the festive break. There was also a peak in sales and traffic through tablet devices on the 1st January, although this was not replicated across mobile handsets.


 
(Share of traffic by device)

The Christmas period saw strong sales growth for our advertiser base but despite a number of predictions to the contrary, ‘Mega Monday’ was the largest online shopping day for us by far.

With advertisers keen to take advantage of price sensitive consumers and starting their sales immediately after Christmas Day couple with the impact of mobile commerce, additional peaks are being seen just after Christmas when they had typically been at the beginning of January in the past.

If you would like to receive our regular mobile updates as well as additional insights from the team, please email strategy@affiliatewindow.com to sign up to our monthly newsletter.

Matt Swan

Published 14 January, 2013 by Matt Swan

Matt Swan is Client Strategist at Affiliate Window and a contributor to Econsultancy.

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