Holiday retail in the UK - Statistics & Facts

The last quarter of the year, also referred to as “the golden quarter” in commercial lore, is an exciting period for retailers. Typically, during the months of November and December, retail sales see the highest activity, and over the past years, retail sales in the United Kingdom (UK) during this period have only seen even more elevated numbers. This spirit of spending safeguards the UK as the top ranking country in Europe in terms of retail sales during the holiday season. Both during the Christmas period and the preceding Black Friday and Cyber Week events, UK retail spending surpasses that of other leading European economies.

That being said, almost every month in the financial year in the retail sector is an opportunity to lure consumers to shops. Along the road of the consumers’ shopping journey throughout the year, there are many more milestones like Valentines Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, back-to-school, as well as the relatively new but increasingly popular ones like Singles Day and Amazon Prime Day.

Following Christmas and New Year’s, Easter is the second biggest occasion for retail sales. Surveys on UK consumers’ Easter spending plans showed that in 2020, the expected Easter budget per capita was slightly lower than the previous year’s average of 30.14 British pounds, a likely culprit being the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown. The same reason obliterated one of the most important Easter metrics in 2020: retail visitor traffic. In previous years, footfall to retail locations such as high streets depended on weather conditions over that bank holiday, which in turn influenced whether or not consumers would be out and about spending. In that regard, Easter 2019 proved to be a good period, whereas Easter 2018 was characterized by negative shopper traffic growth change.

Throughout the summer months, consumers are presented with yet more occasions for retail spending. Amazon Prime Day, a two-day sale event to celebrate Amazon’s 20th year, is one recent addition to this. In 2019, Prime members in the UK rushed to the Amazon website to buy technology devices like smart assistants, TVs, and game consoles at discounted prices. The participation in the UK event grew as well. In 2019, the rate of shoppers who purchased products on the Amazon website increased on the previous year.

With the end of summer holidays comes a busy shopping time: back-to-school. For some parents, the cost of back-to-school items engender financial concerns, especially for those with lower income levels. On average, UK parents were expecting to spend around 191 British pounds per child for back-to-school items. Typically, parents paid the highest amount of money for coats, blazers, and school shoes. Researching school-related products online was also part of the back-to-school shopping season. Products sold by retailers such as Marks and Spencer, Morrisons and Asda were particularly looked for online.

It is fair to say that British retail loves a large royal event to further rejuvenate the high street. Of all the major royal celebrations of the last decade, in addition to being incentives for tourism, events like the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton generated millions of pounds across a variety of industries. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, which coincided with the 2012 London Olympics, led to an estimated 170 million British pounds of memorabilia sales alone.

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Holiday retail in the United Kingdom (UK)

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Black Friday & Cyber Week


Other retail celebrations


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