Heralded as the Golden Quarter, the period between October and December typically represents a time of year when UK retailers secure a large proportion of annual revenue.
Covering key calendar dates like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas, year-on-year data shows that consumer spending always peaks over this quarter and those retailers that have prepared well are the ones that capitalise on the opportunity to boost sales.
With the 2021 Golden Quarter now upon us, the team here at DivideBuy have created this live blog to keep retailers across every sector up to date with all the latest news and insights. We’ll be covering a range of topics to help you keep your finger on the pulse, so make sure you’re following us on LinkedIn and Twitter for all the latest. The countdown until the end of the year is well underway!
Thursday, December 16
UK shoppers set to do even more of their shopping online by 2026
To wrap up our rolling blog, we leave you with news that UK consumers are set to do even more of their shopping online by 2026, with the figure rising to 38% – significantly up from this year’s 32%.
According to the latest Edge by Ascential Future Retail Disruption Report, the 2021 figure is up from 29% in 2020, but in five years, it will account for almost 40% of chain retail sales.
Xian Wang, VP of Edge Retail Insight, told Internet Retailing: “Covid-19 accelerated many changes that were already taking place and in this report we have focused on recent developments in last-mile fulfilment, the growth of retailer media and the transformation of retailers into digital ecosystem platforms powered by data and analytics.
“In addition, we review the state of physical store networks as the shift to online sales puts pressure on the high street. These are some of the biggest areas of change in the retail landscape as we look to 2022.”
Thanks for tuning into our DivideBuy Golden Quarter live blog over the past weeks and months.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at DivideBuy!
Wednesday, 8 December
TikTok’s new shopping event will allow users to buy direct from brands
A major new shopping event has been launched by TikTok, which will allow users in the UK to buy directly from brands while watching a live streamed video.
The social media giant said its two-day ‘On Trend’ event will include companies such as L’Oreal, Nutribullet and JD – and take place on December 8th and 9th.
Kris Boger, TikTok’s general manager UK of global business solutions, told Retail Week: “You can have an account as a business and you can connect your product inventory with your TikTok account. When people see your TikToks, they can transact directly within the TikTok experience and complete that transaction. It’s quite exciting, that’s quite a frictionless way of transacting.”
Thursday, 2 December
Retail footfall drops in November despite anticipated Black Friday boost
Footfall for retailers dropped by almost 15% during November despite the anticipated Black Friday trading boost.
The figure fell by 14.5% compared to 2019’s pre-pandemic levels, but was a “much improved” result compared to July, which saw a 24.2% drop from the same period two years ago, TheIndustry.fashion reports.
Retail analyst Springboard said the month also saw a relatively poor uplift in footfall during Black Friday week, with sales actually declining from the previous week for the first time since the event was introduced to the UK.
Wednesday, 1 December
Retail prices rise for first time in two years due to soaring costs and labour shortages
Retail prices have increased for the first time since May 2019 due to rising costs and labour shortages, new figures have revealed.
According to the British Retail Consortium, UK households are facing a more expensive Christmas after the shop price index showed a rise of 0.3% in November compared to the same month last year.
The BRC’s chief executive Helen Dickinson told Sky News: “The impact of labour shortages, rising commodity prices and transportation costs have now very clearly taken their hold on consumer prices.”
Sunday 28 November
‘Up to police’ to enforce masks in shops rule
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said it will be up to the police to make the public follow new rules regarding face coverings in shops.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced at the weekend it will now be compulsory to wear masks in shops and on public transport following the emergence of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.
A spokesperson for the BRC said police will need to enforce the rule in retail settings, telling the BBC: “Customers are asked to respect the rules and be considerate to their fellow shoppers and to hard-working shop staff.”
Friday 26 November
Highest ever Black Friday sales as transactions rise by over a fifth
Shoppers spent a fifth more during this year’s Black Friday – making it the biggest in UK history, new data has suggested.
Debit and credit card giant Barclaycard said sales were up 23% between midnight and 5pm on the day compared with the same period in 2020 – when most of the UK was in lockdown.
The figure was up 2.4% on 2019 – but Rob Cameron, chief executive of Barclaycard Payments, told the Guardian he didn’t expect sales to be “too far ahead” of those posted two years ago.
Friday 26 November
Biggest Christmas price rises for over three decades
Christmas shoppers are this year facing the largest price rises in over three decades, it’s been revealed.
Widespread shortages have seen people rushing to get their shopping done in November, with a new report from the CBI finding that customers are concerned about empty shelves.
That has seen prices rise, with the CBI’s monthly retail sales balance soaring to a three-month high, as the Retail Gazette reported.
Tuesday 23 November
Which? warning over Black Friday price offers
A new investigation has found that more than 90% of Black Friday offers were actually the same price or cheaper during the months building up to last year’s sales event.
The report by consumer association Which? said 184 of the 201 items from six major retailers were not “truly genuine” discounts.
Trading standards told the BBC that consumers should be aware that an offer “may not be what it’s all cracked up to be”.
Monday 22 November
Consumers urged to be vigilant when shopping in sales
Black Friday shoppers have been urged by police and banks to be careful when shopping in this week’s sales.
The number of scams is expected to increase on last year, when criminals defrauded online shoppers of £2.5m during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday period, the Guardian reported.
Pauline Smith, service director at Action Fraud, said: “If you think you have found a bargain that is too good to be true, it probably is. Stop and think before making a purchase, as it could protect you and your money.”
Sunday 21 November
Fears supply chain troubles will hit stock as Black Friday nears
On Sunday there were warnings that supply chain troubles would hit stock levels and impact retailers’ ability to meet Black Friday demand.
The UK’s online retail association reported insufficient stock due to delays in products arriving, and said businesses are fearful of a lack of warehouse staff and drivers to deliver goods.
Andy Mulcahy, insights director at IMRG, told the BBC: “The real pinch points are Asia. Those with deeper pockets can find ways to work around it to ensure they have the stock in, but some will be in a much more difficult position.”
Saturday 20 November
£9.2bn to be spent on Black Friday
Shoppers are expected to spend almost £9.2bn this weekend as part of the Black Friday sales – a rise of 15% on 2020.
Major retailers like John Lewis, Currys, Asda and Amazon have all said they are laying on even more deals than last year, when much of the UK was in lockdown.
Gary Grant, chairman and founder of toy chain The Entertainer, told The Guardian, consumers were hoping to save money in the Black Friday sales this year after confidence was knocked by increasing living costs including for food and fuel.
Monday 15 November
Black Friday sales begin… 11 days before Black Friday
Black Friday may be well over a week away, but that has not stopped major online players from launching their sales early.
Amazon is among the retail giants to have wasted no time ahead of the big day on November 26 and has already dropped prices on thousands of products including Echo Dots and Kindles. Companies like Adidas, AO, JD Sports and John Lewis are among others to have launched discount schemes on various items too.
The Independent has the latest on the early deals on offer:
Sunday 14 November
Increase in high street footfall as Christmas lights are switched on
As the festive period kicked off with the switching on of Christmas lights at the weekend, footfall in our town centres saw a welcomed jump.
The footfall across our high streets and shopping centres is reported to have risen by 11.7% on Saturday and 10% respectively from the week before. The average figure over the entire week rose by 2.5% and 1.7% respectively.
Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard said the week may have given us an ‘early indication’ of shoppers’ anticipation for visiting retail destinations over Christmas.
Wehrle told Sharecast: “It was high streets and shopping centres – where Christmas events and decorations tend to be in the greatest abundance, rather than retail parks that benefited from the greatest uplift in shopper activity.”
Tuesday 9 November
October sales figures highlight increased consumer spending
Retail sales growth for October was recorded at 1.3% compared to the same time last year. New figures from the British Retail Consortium found that the increase was driven in large part by in-store sales, which grew by 7.9% in the three months to October.
Around 42% of non-food sales took place online in October and Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG said: “Online shopping sales remain significantly higher than pre-Covid-19 levels. The much-reported squeeze on household spending has yet to materialise as consumers seem happy to carry on shopping.”
Monday 8 November
Competition hots up as retailers release their Christmas adverts for 2021
The battle of the Christmas ads is well underway with some of the UK’s biggest high street brands having launched their campaigns already. John Lewis, Debenhams, Very and Argos are just a selection of those to have moved early to capitalise on consumer spending this Golden Quarter.
Retail Gazette rounds up some of the best here:
Thursday 4 November
UK ahead of Europe as consumers head to the shops
The UK is leading the way in terms of shopper footfall so far this Golden Quarter compared to the major European economies, according to a new report.
The figures for October were covered by the Belfast Telegraph, which also included comments from Helen Dickinson, chief executive at the British Retail Consortium. Speaking about the findings and the encouraging sign for retailers ahead of Christmas, she said:
“This gives more retailers a reason to be hopeful as we enter the crucial golden quarter, with many embracing both digital and physical connections with their customers.”
Friday 29 October
UK brands set to spend an extra £1bn on Christmas advertising
Brands across the UK are predicted to spend an extra £1bn on advertising this Christmas, according to a study by the research firm Warc. Retailers are forecast to spend as much as £7.9 billion on advertising during the crucial Golden Quarter, which would represent the highest quarterly ad spend ever recorded by the Advertising Association. Many of the UK’s biggest brands have already gone live with their festive campaigns as the race to attract shoppers hots up, as reported by Retail Gazette.
Thursday 28 October
Online shopping set to steal the show again this Christmas
A study looking at the Christmas shopping habits of UK consumers by Bazaarvoice has been published by Retail Times. The survey covers a range of topics, including how online shopping will be even more popular this year and some of the driving factors behind purchase decisions. Some of the key findings include:
– The top factor consumers will consider when buying gifts this year is cost (59%)
– Almost a third (31%) of respondents are starting their holiday shopping earlier this year
– Over half (55%) said they’re shopping online now more than they were pre-COVID
– Although 60% shopped at a physical store for Christmas gifts previously, only 53% plan to do the same this year
– For online shopping, 62% said they shopped with retailers where there was home delivery in the past and 67% said they would do the same this year – a 5% increase.
Monday 25 October
UK Retailers and their expected Black Friday sale dates
An A-Z of UK retailers and their expected Black Friday sale dates has been published by the consumer lifestyle website, T3. Including Amazon, Boots, Halfords, Simba, Wickes and many more, the article highlights some of the top deals to be found with some of the biggest names in retail having already launched their campaigns to run throughout the Golden Quarter.
Sunday 24 October
Ghosts of lockdowns past and the affect on Christmas sales
The Telegraph features a story focusing on the Christmas countdown for retailers with concerns about the impact that another lockdown could have on the profits of brick-and-mortar stores. Experts are predicting flat growth of 74 points out of 100 for the Golden Quarter compared with the previous three months, saying firms “will have to work harder in the next three months to maintain profitability”.
Friday 23 October
Retail sales slip in September
A ‘perfect storm’ of supply chain challenges and lower consumer demand impacted on September’s retail sales according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). A 0.2% year-on-year reduction in the amount spent by consumers was reported in a story featured by Retail Week.
Predicted rise in footfall for Q4 compared to Q3
Retail intelligence specialist Ipsos has predicted a rise in footfall for Q4 compared to Q3 but warned that shopper numbers will remain below the level of the Golden Quarter in 2019.
Oliver Hillier, senior retail analyst at Ipsos, echoed the sentiment that shoppers may buy earlier this year than in 2020. Furniture News featured the story, where Hillier said: “Over the summer we saw consumer confidence increase, with the public making the most of opportunities to spend on clothes, beauty, hospitality and travel.
“There is no doubt that global supply chain challenges will continue to cause headaches for retailers, and because of this the message to shoppers must be to ‘get your shopping done early’.”
Concerns around supply chains could cause consumers to bring forward Christmas
Concerns around global supply chains could cause consumers to bring forward Christmas purchases this year, according to a forecast from data company Springboard.
The company is predicting a sharp increase in shopping from the week commencing 21 November. An article from Sky also confirmed that toy retailer The Entertainer has already encouraged shoppers to buy gifts early this year because of the possibility of shortages closer to Christmas.
Spending and trends predictions for the 2021 Golden Quarter
In our latest blog, we’ve covered some of the key things you need to know about this year’s Golden Quarter. All the insights point towards a big-spending season ahead, with some key point such as:
- UK consumers are ready to spend big after saving almost £200bn during lockdown in 2020
- 57% of consumers expect to do most, if not all, of their Christmas shopping online
- 63% of people say they’ll do online research before committing to a purchase
- Retailers in the UK furniture and flooring sector could be set for a bumper quarter according to predictions
Amazon goes live with Black Friday deals in the US
Following rumours that it would go big again this year, it’s been confirmed that Amazon has gone live with a range of offers and kicked off an early countdown to Black Friday in the US. The eCommerce giant has announced “deep discounts across every category” including fashion, home goods, toys and electronics.
There’s no news yet on when the UK campaign will get underway, but it’s unlikely to be too long. It’s definitely one to watch – particularly for eCommerce retailers specialising in those key sectors.
Average basket size up 20% according to latest BRC figures
The latest annual Payments Survey from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has found that card payments now account for more than four in every five pounds spent in the UK. The statistics show how the impact of Covid has changed the way consumers shop, with cash now accounting for just 15% of total spending in retail (down from 20% the previous year).
The shift to digital has also seen consumers making fewer, but bigger shopping purchases, with the average basket size rising more than 20%. This is really positive news for all eCommerce retailers and it’s a subject we touched on in this blog all about driving conversions and increasing revenue at checkout.