EU Shopping Behaviour During Sale Periods

With the Summer sale season about to wrap up, we took a look back at ShopStyle data from the last two major sale periods (Winter holiday and 2014 Summer sale) to gain some insight on consumer shopping behaviour – with some interesting results.

Despite sale season lasting for several weeks in most markets, consumer activity is highly concentrated, peaking over just a few days per season. Over the Christmas period, ShopStyle UK saw a significant uptick from 26-29 Dec, when visits were 10% higher and clicks 23% higher than the monthly average. The greatest spike in activity was on 26 Dec, the start of the post-Christmas sales, indicating a strong desire to beat the crowd to the best products. Our other high-volume days occurred in the back half of November and first few days of December, indicating a shift towards earlier purchasing habits and a positive reaction to high street competition that caused more brands to go to market earlier with reduction messages. Most of these high traffic days were also Sundays, in keeping with the weekly visit cycle we see year round.

June sale season saw the same rush to grab the best deals early - and a retail environment that was happy to oblige with off the shelf promotions. June 1 saw a 15% increase in visits from the 31 May, and 2 June was our highest grossing revenue day of the sale season – up an incredible 37% from the day prior. UK shoppers weren't wasting any time, in contrast to 2013 when our highest traffic and revenue days occurred from 17-22 June. This year, revenue spikes were seen at each weekend but activity was quieter during the week and dropped off considerably by the last week of June, when most of the best products had been picked dry. Interestingly, the highest traffic day was 26 May, indicating that shoppers may have been engaging in more pre-sale research than we've seen before - one contributing factor to the heavy buying patterns that first weekend in June.

In France, behaviour is a bit more constant. French visits soared by 55% on 25 June (the first legal day of sale), with revenue up an astounding 106%, and maintained a high trajectory of revenue activity through 13 July, when it fell back to previous levels.

German shoppers were more to the point, with most visit and revenue activity concentrated from 1-5 June, following the early-adopter UK model but concentrating it even further - a wonderful example of German efficiency, given that sale periods and activity are very similar in Germany and the UK.

Interestingly, consumers are less likely to specifically search for "sale" during key sale periods. Of all ShopStyle searches that utilised a filter to refine results, 99% of these instances globally were for "on sale" in September and October. This figure dropped to 62% in December and January, when retailers typically reduce prices to encourage pre and post Christmas purchases. This indicates that during key sale periods, customers take items being "on sale" for granted and are more focused on finding the right size or colour than refining based on price.

Customers are also more likely to use a sale filter when they're on mobile rather than desktop, indicating a different browsing intent. In January, 59% of desktop filter usage was for "on sale," while 70% of mobile browsers utilised this feature. And unsurprisingly, customers are much more likely to search for branded sale terms than generic ones, hoping they'll score an amazing designer deal, with brands like Burberry, Tory Burch, Gucci, and Christian Louboutin topping the list globally.