Holiday shopping: exciting or extravagant?
With Christmas only a few days away it seems as if everyone has taken upon themselves to visit the local shops again. With the economy crawling out of its crisis, it seems like holiday spending is as huge as it has ever been. Due to better consumer confidence and a purchasing power boost, expenses are expected to grow twice as much as in 2015 with approximately 0,6%, as expected by the ING bank at the end of 2015.
Christmas is a time of traditions. Where once the religious rites where what the Holidays were all about, nowadays these traditions have shifted towards mall madness and shopping stress towards the end of December. The tradition of gift giving is even older than the celebration of Christmas itself, and this phenomenon has become more extravagant each year.
New traditions finding its way in the Netherlands are Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These days, both in the weekend after Thanksgiving, are known for their high discounts. On Black Friday people go to the stores, and on Cyber Monday these discounts are for online shoppers. While these days are already major shopping phenomena in the United States, they have recently also been implemented in the Netherlands, where multiple stores advertised with huge sales on their websites and in stores, attracting many customers.
In for instance the United States, Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Retailers tend to reward early customers with special discounts and presents, leading to people camping out in front of the stores to get the best deals in the middle of the night. In the Netherlands this type of craziness has not been spotted yet, but the average Dutch consumer does like a good deal!
With these traditions spreading around the world and being implemented outside of the U.S. as well, this has affected the pre-Christmas shopping rituals of consumers. What has appeared to have become more important over the years is gift planning. The ongoing trend is to start your planning early, so you are able to buy your favorite pieces for the best prices, for instance on Black Friday.
An important role in the planning process is played by the Internet. With consumers being able to check the current prices for the product of their choice at multiple suppliers, they are more aware of the price fluctuations and will strike when there is a special discount or when they can get the best value for their money.
An example of the Christmas extravaganza can be seen when looking at the differences of the supply of advent calendars. Where for the last decade, these were still filled with chocolates, nowadays they are filled with toys, perfume and even muesli! You cannot think of anything anymore that has not been put inside one of these calendars.
This concept has also flown here from the United States and Great-Britain, where the tradition of receiving a little present every day of December, leading up to Christmas, has been going on for some longer time. In these countries there is a vast supply of advent calendars, with prices ranging up to 150 pounds for an advent calendar filled with different sorts of whisky’s, or 200 pounds for a different perfume sample every day.
Holiday shopping has always been a booming time in the retail sector, but lately there has been a major shift in where people go to buy their goods. With even groceries being bought online, it is no wonder that the physical stores cannot compete with online shopping much longer. With major bankruptcy cases, such as the department store V&D and the Macintosh-chain in December of last year, it is clear that it has become difficult for major brands and chains to keep their retail stores profitable.
This shift towards online shopping can also be seen during Christmas time. The hardest part about Christmas is probably finding the perfect gift for your friends and family. However, nowadays you can even get the help from an app to find a gift for you! The application Feli can be seen as the Tinder of gift-shopping. You simply describe the person you’re buying for in the app, and you can start swiping left and right to end up with the perfectly fitting gift. The app will redirect you to the site where you can buy it, and you are done! Easy right?
This app is another example of how the entire society is involved in the Christmas spirit. You cannot walk through your local shopping street without seeing a Christmas tree, glittery ornament or a string of Christmas lights. You can get gift recommendations and pre-sorted gift sets at many stores, which almost makes you do not even have to think about getting presents anymore. While some find this extremely helpful, it also takes away the magic of gift giving for a lot of people.
With the CBS expecting a positive economic climate in the fourth quarter of 2016, the forecasts are looking good again. 2016 has been a year of a lot of growth in the retail sector, and also shops in the food sector have seen increases of 2,4% in revenues than the same time last year. Web shops also show an ongoing trend of growing revenues over the last two years, with no sight of this slowing down in the near future.
In the United States, Adobe has predicted that online sales may grow up to 11 percent during the holiday season, reaching over 90 billion dollars. They have predicted that online shopping will start earlier and last longer, which shows the trend of planning becoming more important. The “new” traditions, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, have also broken all the records this year, with Cyber Monday even increasing 12.1 percent since last year!
What do you think about phenomena such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, should they be implemented in the Netherlands as well? And do you find yourself shopping more online than in physical stores?
Happy holidays from Go-Business! And feel free to leave your thoughts on this subject in the comments!