The Boxing Day Rush: How to get Sale-ready

Analysts are predicting UK consumers will spend an incredible £21 billion on Christmas presents and celebrations this year. The bumper seasonal spend, described as retailers’ “Golden Quarter”, will be driven by a combination of people wanting an extra-special Christmas and the aftermath of Black Friday.



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Many retailers are already planning beyond the pre-Christmas period to get ready for the Boxing Day sales. This is also one of their busiest times of the year and preparing early for the Boxing Day rush will provide the best chance of success.

Why is it called Boxing Day?

You may be wondering why Boxing Day has become a time for shopping – and even why it’s called Boxing Day in the first place? It dates from the time of Queen Victoria’s reign, which began in 1837. It’s nothing to do with the sport of boxing and refers to an era when the rich “boxed up” gifts for the poor.

Boxing Day was the servants’ traditional day off, when they would receive a special “Christmas box” from their employer to take home to their family.

Churches also used to help impoverished parishioners on Boxing Day by donating the collection money that they had collected throughout the year. Most churches stored the money in a box, which they opened on Christmas Day and handed out on Boxing Day.

Why do shops have a Boxing Day sale?

There are two main reasons why retailers have a Boxing Day sale: first, it’s good for business, as customers who have probably spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home are eager to go out again. Many will have received money and gift vouchers as presents and are keen to grab some sale bargains.

Secondly, the sale helps to clear old stock, as the previous season’s items can be displayed at reduced prices to clear space for the first batch of stock in the new year. The Boxing Day sales normally carry on into the January sales, when further price reductions take place.

The most popular items in the sales are clothing; television sets; computers and laptops; headphones, tablets, smartwatches and other tech items; and fitness items such as exercise equipment, gym wear and health supplements, as people look forward to their new year resolutions after the excesses of Christmas.

Predicted consumer trends

People will spend more this year, according to predicted consumer trends. Surveys show only 8% of respondents in the UK say they will be spending less than last year. The predicted average spend per household is £428 this year, compared with £384 in 2020.

There are various reasons for this: some consumers say they have more money to spend this year, because in 2020, they were furloughed and not working. The end of the lockdown in the summer has led to people returning to work and earning again, so they intend to splash out. Others said they saved money during the lockdown, as they weren’t going out and socialising, so they are going to spend their savings this year, to make the festive period extra special.

Last year’s Boxing Day sales were massive, but involved more retailers online, due to the ongoing Covid restrictions. In 2020, 70% of shoppers surveyed said they had increased their online shopping.
However, online sales have fallen, as UK shoppers are heading back in-store.

Preparing your shop for Boxing Day sales

The most important thing to consider is your stockroom: is it full, as there is no point advertising a big sale if you haven’t got enough stock to carry you through, at a time of year when you’re unlikely to have any extra deliveries? Don’t overdo products that may not be as popular as tried and trusted sale items, as you don’t want to end up with stuff you can’t shift.

Choose the discounts carefully to make sure your sale items have eye-catching offers that are also profitable. Do your research in advance to see what your competitors are offering – this will give you a better idea of what you should aim for.

Advertise your deals, because if you don’t let customers know what’s on sale, no one will buy them. Raising consumer awareness of your business is very important at this time of year, so advertise on your website, on your social media feeds and also in your shop window.

Importance of your shopfront

With the onset of the digital age and online advertising, never forget that your shopfront and shop window display are equally important – if not more so. Having an enticing shopfront will encourage shoppers in. While some will see advertising about your sale online, your window display is the difference between a passer-by walking past or stopping to take a look and becoming a potential customer.

Have some eye-catching posters in your window, announcing your Boxing Day sale and giving customers an idea of what to expect. While your Christmas window display needs to be special, you also need a hint of what will be happening on Boxing Day.

Spring into action as soon as the doors close on Christmas Eve and put up more posters showing special offers. It may seem like a nuisance when you want to go home for Christmas, but you’ll be glad you did it when Boxing Day arrives!

Your shopfront is a terrific advertising medium – the window to your success, in fact!

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