Given the English propensity to queue, it is somewhat surprising to see the historic tradition of physically lining up around the block for Boxing Day sales is slowly dying out. On the other hand, you only need to look at the abundance of smart devices and our enthusiasm for online shopping to understand why this purchasing behaviour is changing.

Whilst the US has delivered us Black Friday, Boxing Day remains unmistakably British and this is reflected in some recent research we have carried out, analysing millions of transactions from approximately 200 retailers during the last two years.

Boxing Day is the second-largest sales peak in the UK for advertisers for Fashion / Luxury brands and department stores. Following the seven day lull in sales leading up to Christmas Day (where it seems consumers window shop and prepare) Boxing Day sees sales jump 147 percent, conversion rates increase by 35 percent and site traffic increases by a huge 82 percent.

It’s no surprise that we are a nation that loves to shop, but it may come as a surprise that mobile devices account for approximately half of all sales on Boxing Day. This reinforces the concept that consumers are unlikely to get up early to hit the shops, but would rather prefer to curl up in bed with a tablet.

The morning and early afternoon are of particular importance with 54 percent of all Boxing Day sales generated by 4pm. Interestingly, tablet sales peak between 10am and 11am – two hours before desktop sales peak.

We can’t discount the evening and the night time though. Many online promotions start at midnight and sales made between midnight and 9am account for 12 percent of the total Boxing Day sales with shopping carts 40 percent higher than any other time of day.

So what does this mean for advertisers?

It’s important to take advantage of the pre-Boxing Day window shopping. Between 22 and 25 December the proportion of visits without purchases increases by more than a third. During this window consumers are taking their time, doing their research and preparing to purchase. This is the ideal time to build a cookie pool of highly valuable users and secure a place in their consideration set when the true rush begins.

Don’t forget a platform – make sure you are connecting with shoppers across all devices. Desktop advertisements are no longer enough, 2015 is the year of the mobile boom and it is essential that advertisers are prepared. It’s also important to make sure you have enough tech support – don’t be headline news because your website has gone down due to traffic volumes and the IT team is on holiday.

Additionally, don’t drop your guard too soon. Sales remain 15 percent above their annual average until 15 January so make sure you’re hitting your targets and keep your cost per clicks high until mid-January to stop your competition outbidding you.

Finally, night owls will be some of your best customers. They may only represent 10 percent of your day’s sales in volume but their average purchase will be 42 percent higher than anyone else’s. You may sleep late on Boxing Day, but your advertising campaigns shouldn’t.


By Jon Buss, UK managing director at Criteo. 

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