Despite the kickoff of post-Christmas sales, recent studies indicate that consumer spending on Boxing Day will likely decrease compared to last year. Research conducted for the VoucherCodes website projects a spending total of £3.7bn on Boxing Day, marking a 2.9% reduction from the previous year.
Though initial data shows a slight increase in the number of shoppers visiting stores this Boxing Day compared to last, the significance of Boxing Day sales has diminished over time. This shift is attributed to pre-Christmas events like Black Friday and the rise of early online discounts.
In a move reflecting changing retail trends, major retailers such as M&S, Next, and John Lewis have decided not to reopen their stores until December 27. Analysts suggest that the current economic climate, characterized by rising prices and strained household incomes, will likely lead to more cautious spending in the sales.
Anita Naik of VoucherCodes notes that while Boxing Day sales traditionally offer a final splurge opportunity, the ongoing cost-of-living crisis has made such indulgences less feasible for many. The VoucherCodes report, developed with GlobalData, forecasts lower spending levels for each day from Christmas through New Year’s Eve, with an overall expected decline of 3.8% to £13.5bn for the week.
Data from MRI Software revealed a 1.4% increase in shopper footfall by midday on Boxing Day, driven primarily by high street and retail park visits. However, this figure still trails behind the 2019 levels by approximately 30%, underscoring the continued shift towards online shopping.
Mastercard data shows a 2.6% increase in spending from November 1 to Christmas Eve compared to last year. Nonetheless, Kien Tan, a senior retail adviser at PwC, observes that many retailers are left with excess stock, potentially leading to larger post-Christmas discounts.
The trend of declining Boxing Day sales popularity has been ongoing, with Black Friday gaining prominence. Consumers are increasingly spreading their spending across the post-Christmas period. Diane Wehrle, chief executive at Rendle Intelligence and Insights, remarks that the shift in consumer behavior during the Christmas shopping season is expected to continue, with demand gradually moving from Boxing Day to the days between December 27 and 29.
Given the surge in online shopping, Wehrle is not surprised by the diminishing status of Boxing Day as a key shopping event. She notes that for many who do shop in-person, the focus is more on leisure activities like dining out, with shopping being a secondary activity.