2015 Christmas Retail Review

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Seems this past Christmas was quite the mixed bag. Those companies I use predominantly seemed to fare well - including of course Amazon in particular, John Lewis and House of Fraser. The mild weather had a significant impact on Fashion Retail, with several in that sector posting results below expectations - including Next. The Entertainment sector was saved by Adele’s latest album, the Paddington Movie DVD, and a few blockbuster game releases - FIFA 16, Call of Duty Black Ops III and Fallout 4.

 

Supermarkets were half-and-half with Aldi, Lidl, M&S Food and Morrisons performing relatively well with the rest down on expectations. Black Friday further emphasized the shift to mobile and online shopping with over £1billion spent for the first time, while several physical stores remained relatively empty meanwhile.

 

Clothing retail of course gets significantly impacted by unseasonal weather. If it was warm and sunny all year round, we would not need thick winter coats or waterproofs. I have several friends working in the outward bound retail sector where success seems to be largely reliant on wet and cold weather. The mild Christmas weather certainly would not have persuaded anyone they needed to change up their wardrobe. Mystifyingly, the clothing promotional cycle seems to be getting more and more out of tune with the weather - where I now see bulky winter coats arriving in Selfridges as early as the end of July - around about the warmest time in the UK calendar. Spring and Summer-wear started arriving in stores before Christmas too - just in advance of the cold snap we normally get in January / February - I’m pretty sure this wasn’t always so, and it seems to be getting worse ...

 

Clothing retailers surely need to have seasonally appropriate clothing in stores to stimulate any kind of passing business. The majority of people would not dream of buying an umbrella on the sunniest day of the year for instance. In my youth I don’t remember the restocks occurring so early on. As if bowing to marketing campaign pressure, seems that almost before the new year, supermarkets are starting to make way for Valentines and Easter chocolates and accoutrements.

 

In terms of my own Christmas shopping, If I can, I like to do most of it via Amazon, then John Lewis. I can get both to deliver to destination, and they both offer some sort of wrapping service, so it requires minimum effort for maximum success. I’m often overseas for Christmas so I also usually stop in on Banana Republic (for Sweaters), John Lewis, House of Frasers and Selfridges for some of my gifts, very occasionally M&S too. This year the ratio was circa 80:20 digital to physical stores. It is so much easier ordering and organising online - usually at a better price too. It strikes me a somewhat odd that although HMV is competitive for a lot of DVDs / Blu-Rays and CDs, it is absolutely not competitive for computer / console games.

 

If you want a one-stop-shop, no one comes close to Amazon still - after my making numerous complaints about randomly late Amazon Logistics deliveries throughout the year, they somehow got their act together for Christmas and have been fine since.

 

Argos does not appear to have been advertised quite as well for this last Christmas season, I bought a few things in the previous year - v.competitive on Lego for instance, but was not aware of any campaigns this year at all.

 

By and large most retailers still aren’t fully tuned up for Christmas, offering up Black Friday as a reason for late deliveries, and not providing the full Christmas experiencing - gift wrapping with tags all integrated into the checkout - thank you very much Amazon ...

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