Happy holidays

Buone feste
Michele Caprini
26 Aug 2019

There is no mistake, it is August but the holidays loom for the international retail industry, and it is urgent to prepare the “holiday season” 2019. We start with the Thanksgiving, we continue with the Black Friday and the Cyber Monday, we end at Christmas. And from China, again in November, the Single’s Day hangover will spread.

According to a survey from Criteo, a digital marketing multinational, almost half of the interviewees said they expected a sharp increase in sales. To what extent? 45% in the UK, 48% in the US, 50% in France. Here, as in Italy, Black Friday is becoming an increasingly strong alternative to winter sales in January.

One year ago 

In 2018, US consumers spent a record $850 billion. Looking at home, the average of fellow countrymen who purchased in the new commercial holidays grew by almost ten percentage points, from 23% in 2016 to 32.6% in 2018 (Confcommercio).

It’s not up to us to write the perfect holiday manual, but the evidence of some of last year’s directions is undeniable. Based on this, it is clear that the whole game is not only played applying discounts on some days of greatest interest. What is important, however, is to plan a strategy for the whole period, with the attention focused on the consequences of the November promotions. Santa Claus’ sleigh, often, becomes lighter and the income trend, in our western countries, certainly does not help.

The great promotions of November cannot absorb the entire commercial effort of the fourth quarter. According to some analysts, retailers should consider more careful behaviour. Preview sales in November, for example, followed by great Christmas promotions.

Not only eCommerce

And besides, it’s good not to be dazzled by the amazing numbers of e-commerce. In 2018, in fact, a correct single-channel approach rewarded physical retail. Apocalypse or not, the most interesting indications have still arrived from the American market. And they still point, in good part, to deliveries.

Two giants of the traditional distribution like Best Buy and Target, in fact, have assured to the customers free shipments, of two days and without a minimal purchase amount. Weakened one of the main appeals of online shopping, the initiative has induced a sharp average increase in online conversions in December (on September/October).

The result has not been to the detriment of the sales from their physical shops that have, moreover, cashed the umpteenth success of the click-and-collect, in some cases with an increase of more than 50%.

Last minute shipping was also a smart move. The large distributors who guaranteed delivery before Christmas, for purchases prior to 21 December, have realised much higher conversion rates. And again for Target, nice result of the drive-up service, which allowed customers to receive their purchases directly in their cars from over a thousand points of sale.

Walmart, for its part, expects that by the end of this year the shipment within 24 hours will be available for 75 percent of its customers.


Finally, consistency between payment devices and methods. When this is allowed to the customer at any point of sale, and regardless of the technology in use, it is certainly a plus point.

Three risks to avoid, however, at any cost. Late deliveries, above all, it is unacceptable that Santa Claus arrives the next day. Then, the lack of availability of the brand in high demand on the shelves or for shipments, and the complexity of online transactions. A few clicks to convert the customer into a buyer, or he will never become one.

Happy holidays, then, to who sells and who buys.