Winter sales 2019: Peak shopping days in Europe

December 21, 2018 ByStaff


As the dust settles on Christmas 2018, European retailers’ thoughts are turning to the Winter Sales season.

With traffic data insight it’s easier to plan for the busiest times in stores, enticing customers with eye-catching discounts, but also delivering customer comfort and service excellence when it matters. Staff scheduling – tailored to predicted peaks and valleys in traffic – is of paramount importance to deal with lengthy queues at payment points, to keep stock moving and to ensure the sales floor remains as tidy as possible at this hectic time.

ShopperTrak has examined the following key markets to spot past Winter Sales trends, and to pinpoint the likely peaks in the coming weeks, country-by-country.

France – Busiest days around 9th and 12 January

  • For the past three years, France has seen its first big uplift in traffic on the first Wednesday following the Epiphany celebrations (which is when the sales start), with traffic being over double that of the average Wednesday.
  • The Saturday following this is also up against the average, being 77% higher than the average Saturday in both 2016 and 2017.
  • The later in the month the sales start, the higher traffic is likely to be. For example, in 2016 the Wednesday fell on 6th January; whereas the following year it fell on the 11th, with traffic being 10% higher.
  • Traffic in the week after this remains high compared to the rest of January.
  • ShopperTrak predicts the busiest days will be 9th and 12th January 2019.

UK – reasonable post-Boxing Day uplifts in recent years

  • In the UK, the busiest post-Christmas shopping days tend to be 27th to 30th December, with these days all being busier than Boxing Day for the past three years (apart from in 2016 when Boxing Day was busier than 30th December).
  • Large uplifts in average traffic can be expected on these days. For the past two years traffic on the 27th has been up almost 80%, while the 28th has seen traffic increase by 76% on average for the past 3 years.
  • Out of this period, the busiest day has varied, depending on how the days fall. In 2017 the busiest day was 28th December (Thursday), in 2016 it was 27th (Tuesday) and in 2015 it was the 29th (Tuesday).
  • Based on previous trends and with how the days are due to fall in 2018, ShopperTrak estimates that the busiest Winter Sales day this year will be Saturday 29th
  • Moving forward into January, the first week (apart from New Year’s Day) has seen reasonable uplift in traffic for the past few years.
  • The first week in January tends to be the busiest, with 2nd January usually being the busiest day of that week (apart from the Saturday). ShopperTrak predicts 2nd Jan will be the busiest weekday in January, but Saturday 5th will likely be busier overall.

Poland – winter sales traffic peaks 27th to 30th December

  • The hugely popular winter sales in Poland are very much concentrated between the Christmas and New Year period, with traffic shooting up on 27th December and staying high until 30th The only exception to this was in 2016 when traffic on 30th Dec remained quite low.
  • These are likely to be the busiest days for winter sales shopping in Poland, with no particular stand-out day predicted – they are all very busy!
  • In terms of average traffic, the 27th can expect the largest average uplift in traffic – in 2017 traffic saw an uplift of 142%, and in 2016 it increased by 136%. In 2015 average traffic was only up by 55% as the 27th fell on a Sunday.
  • Winter sales traffic has increased in Poland over the past three years, with YOY traffic for 27th> December being up 31% in 2016 and up 25% in 2017.
  • Moving into the New Year, traffic tends to return to normal levels, especially with the Epiphany celebrations keeping store visitor numbers low.

Spain – sales traffic peaks post-Epiphany

  • For Spain’s winter sales, the largest uplifts in traffic are seen in January, after the Christmas season is over. There is still a significant uplift in store visitors’ in-between the Christmas and New Year period, but this is due to traditional Christmas shopping, as most gift giving takes place on Epiphany.
  • Sales begin traditionally on 7th January, and this date has been particularly busy for the past two years due to it falling on the weekend. In 2019 it is likely that Monday 7th will be very busy, but Saturday 12th may be the busier day.
  • It is worthy to note some retailers expand the winter sales into late February or even later.

Germany – prepare for a peak on 2nd Jan

  • Despite winter sales in Germany not officially kicking off until the end of January, there isn’t a sudden uplift in retail traffic during this time, with the larger weekday uplifts being seen in the first week of the New Year.
  • Following New Year’s Day, traffic sees a large increase in Germany on 2nd January (unless it falls on a Sunday), with traffic on this day actually surpassing that of the following Saturday in 2018.
  • After the first week of the New Year, weekday traffic drops back down to normal levels, but Saturday traffic remains high until mid-February.
  • With winter sales kicking off on the last Monday of the month, a small uplift in week-on-week traffic can be expected. In 2018 WOW traffic was up 5%, while in 2017 it was up nearly 9%. However, an uplift against average Monday traffic should not be expected, with traffic actually declining.
  • In 2016 traffic was down 14%, in 2017 it was down 11%, in 2018 it was down 2.5%.
  • In general, the earlier in the month the last Monday falls, the less likely it is that there will be an uplift in traffic.

Italy Retail – 6th January likely to be the busiest shopping day

  • In Italy there is a clear uplift in traffic at the start of the New Year. For the past three years traffic has seen its first big increase on 5th January, with the 6th (Epiphany) being the busiest day overall.
  • Based on previous trends, 6th January is likely to be the busiest shopping day again in Italy in 2019, with average traffic being up by over 200% in 2016 and 2017.
  • The sales hype continues until around the 2nd weekend of January, after which traffic begins to return to normal levels.

Start 2019 on a conversion high

Consumer confidence is under pressure in many European countries, so shoppers will be tightening their belts after the expense of Christmas, and keen to dig out the best bargains.

Retailers in tune with expected shopper behaviour patterns will be well-positioned to meet their needs, and in doing so, accelerate conversions as we head into 2019.



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