What Christmas sale spend trends can tell us about retail in 2023 as rewards take centre stage

Dawn Reid
6 minute read

The ongoing rise in the cost of living has altered the way Brits approached spending in the last 12 months – with the Christmas period providing a clear indicator of today’s state of play. Spending year-on-year flatlined with the average transaction value sitting at around £33 for Christmas 2022 and the previous year.

Retail spending increased by less than 0.5% year-on-year in the last 11 days of 2022 –reaching nearly £442m, up £2m on 2021.

With Christmas being such a critical moment for retailers this flatline comes as a disappointment as the sector continues to shoulder the impacts of higher inflation and declining discretionary spend amongst shoppers.

That said, the Boxing Day sales provided a much-needed boost for retailers following adulled ‘Golden Quarter’. The average amount spent daily by consumers rose 18% betweenChristmas Day and New Year’s Eve last year, compared to immediate build-up to Christmas(21st -24th December 2022), with shoppers taking advantage of discounts as the cost of living continues to squeeze households.

Electricals, online fast fashion and marketplaces sales fall

Consumer spend on electricals saw a second-year of decline, as consumers reigned in their spending on big ticket items like devices, televisions and games consoles. UK electricals purchases have dropped by 20% over the last two years.

Online fast fashion retailers also experienced a slump in sales, with spend falling 42% from 2020 levels as consumers return to the high street for their wardrobe updates.

Digital marketplaces saw a 9% decline in spend year-on-year, following a period of growth between 2020 to 2021. And despite inflation hiking prices, buyers also appear to be turning away from previously loved furniture and other second-hand goods.

High street fashion, sports apparel and home improvements see gains

Despite an overall plateau in spend across the retail sector, spend in high street fashion stores, like Zara, H&M and Next, has risen 29% over the last two years – with consumers hitting the high streets to cash in on Christmas and Boxing Day deals.

Sporting goods brands - such as GymShark, Sports Direct, JD Sports - saw a 17% uptick in spend in the same two-year time period, with fitness-based new year’s resolutions fuelling prolonged sales growth.

Buyers have been turning to sales as a chance to invest in value homeware, with brands like IKEA, Dunelm and B&M recording a 12% increase on 2020 levels of spend.

While this is undoubtedly a difficult time for households - and bigger ticket purchases appear to have been put on the back-burner - consumers still want to cash in on potential deals, find ways to update their homes and wardrobes, whilst also doubling-down on their fitness goals in the new year.

As we go deeper into 2023, this is an opportunity for retailers to invest in building long-term customer engagement and loyalty. Through schemes such as rewards, discount ranges and personalised marketing, brands can deliver tailored savings and money back to their customer-base, at a time when it’s most valued. Unfortunately, the cost-of-living crisis isn’t going away anytime soon, so as belts continue to tighten, delivering savings through tailored rewards could be the difference that keeps customers engaged and onboard.

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