Retailers have faced a turbulent year with many closing down stores and some even calling in the administrators. But was Christmas enough to boost their sales online? Mellisa Hutchins, our Senior Content Executive, explains all.
Christmas 2018 was a critical time for many retailers, particularly for those who announced disappointing sales reports during the previous months. With the festive season very much behind us, retailers are now in the midst of releasing their sales figures. Following the publication of Retail Week’s Christmas Trading League Table 2018, we take a look at who battled it out to be crowned the top-performing retailer of Christmas 2018.
High-street and online retailer, Joules, announced strong Christmas sales amidst the current high-street gloom. Unlike its competitors, Joules reported an 11.7% year-on-year growth in sales over the seven weeks to 6th January. Their online sales’ success was put down to their own digital channels sales through concession partners’ websites.
Colin Porter, chief executive at Joules, said: “The group’s performance was again underpinned by the strength of the Joules brand, our growing and loyal customer base, and the flexibility of our ‘total retail’ model, which continues to enable Joules to adapt to changing customer shopping behaviours.”
Famous for their floral prints and iconic wellies, Joules kept their Christmas marketing strategy low-key unlike many of their rival giants. With no billion pound TV ads or revolutionary online campaigns, how exactly did the British clothing brand get their core messaging out there?
Simple yet effective, Joules launched their Christmas video on 15th November. Titled ‘You (and Christmas) all wrapped up, the heart-warming video focused on those magical family moments at Christmas.
Taking a fairytale-like approach, the beautifully filmed video showed the models, both adults and children, wearing products from Joules’ winter range playing in the snow before spending quality time together in the warmth of the family home. It is an emotionally uplifting reminder of the gift that is spending time together as a family.
After Ted Baker became subject to a series of bad press following claims that the company’s founder and chief executive, Ray Kelvin, established a culture of “forced hugs”, there was some concern that the luxury British brand would see a subsequent decline in sales. However, their latest sales figures for the festive season suggest that the brand has in fact shrugged off those concerns following a 5% increase in the fashion brand’s retail space.
In the five weeks leading up to 5th January, Ted Baker’s retail sales increased by 12.2% after seeing strong growth online. After a disappointing Autumn that brought unseasonably warm weather, Ted Baker saw a rise in sales across men’s and women’s coats, jackets and knitwear. Could this have had anything to do with their tasteful Christmas campaigns?
In early November, Ted Baker released the first instalment of their Christmas strategy. The video, named ‘You’re Invited to Ted’s Christmas Party’, was a nostalgic throwback to an era before technology dominated our lives. Oozing class, fun and simplicity, it flaunts their luxurious range of clothing and accessories, whilst reminding us of the fun that can be had with the simple pleasures in life.
A Christmas gifting film filled with shoppable gifts, this cinematic video allows you to shop while you watch. Highlighting a range of gifting options, clickable tags throughout the video allows you to evade hours shopping on the high-street and prevent endless hours trawling through online retailers for the perfect gift.
The video showcases their latest releases worn by models as they strut their stuff through a snowbound forest. It ends with them posing in their outfits at a present-laden scene illuminated by a large Ted Baker sign. In a statement, Ted Baker said: “No need for frantic shopping sprees or hours spent online – simply watch Ted’s new fantastical digital film, filled with shoppable gifts for all.”
For Gear4music, the largest online music specialist retailer in the UK, Christmas proved to be music to their ears. Selling more than 50,000 different products on their website, the York-based retailer topped the league after sales grew by more than 40% from during the last four months of 2018.
The online retailer saw demand for instruments and music equipment grow substantially, reaching maximum capacity as its distribution centre prevented further growth. During the period between 1st September to 31st December, Gear4music revealed that their total sales amounted to £48.7 million, up 41% from £34.6 million in the same period in 2017.
UK sales alone grew by 36% to £35.5 million from £18.8 million, whilst sales from Europe and the rest of the World were up 47% to £23.2 million from £15.8 million. But what was the secret behind their success? With no expensive Christmas campaign to thank for their increase in sales, the music specialist retailer puts its success during the festive season down to the ever-increasing popularity of high-ticket items.
Andrew Wass, chief executive officer of Gear4music, said: “We expect this high consumer demand and strong sales momentum to continue over the three months of the financial period and into the next financial year.”
Last year, saw the online retailer successfully launch a US website, expanding its reach beyond Europe.
Of the twenty-six retailers that feature in the league table, the top ten highest performing retailers, with the exception of Aldi, did not participate in the battle of the Christmas ads nor did they spend millions on a new marketing strategy. Instead, they all stayed true to their brand and put their customers’ experience and needs first. So, it just goes to show that sometimes bigger isn’t always better. All too often, extravagant Christmas campaigns can see brands lose their sense of self and put their own needs before that of their consumer base, in a bid to outperform their competitors.
Gear4music, Ted Baker and Joules all focused on their strengths and delivered exactly what they knew their customers wanted – and it certainly paid off. It is evident that concentrating on pushing your core brand messaging and ensuring that your customers’ online experience is second-to-none, then you will reap the rewards. Scaling back your marketing strategy to meet the standards that your audience expects to benefit from appears to be the way forward, after all, why pursue the advanced when you haven’t mastered the basics?
The question is, does this mark the beginning of a new era of retail marketing strategies?