Record-breaking e-commerce Christmas season is coming
Predicting Christmas commerce is particularly difficult this year. Many specialty goods trade sectors, for which the Christmas season has traditionally been the most important sales season of the year, have suffered during the COVID-19 year. At the beginning of the season, it is encouraging to see that consumption intentions in many important product groups have intensified right now. December is still by far the most important month in terms of sales for commerce in Finland.
With the second wave of COVID-19, consumer mobility has once again decreased, making Christmas sales more difficult for brick-and-mortar stores. The Finnish specialty goods trade is not alone in this situation. In Britain, for example, where, until early December, virtually only grocery stores have been open, there are fears of a drop in Christmas commerce.
At the same time, however, online sales in Britain are expected to grow at a record rate, rising to a third of all sales for the rest of the year. Christmas and Black Friday shopping are also likely to be done early due to COVID-19 restrictions and because consumers fear that logistics will be congested due to high demand.
In Finland, too, the share of e-commerce will increase in Christmas and Black Friday sales, putting pressure on logistics.
“Concerns about the functionality of logistics and the speed of deliveries can support the sale of physical stores but also bring forward online purchasing,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist at the Finnish Commerce Federation.
Although Finland is also expecting a record-breaking e-commerce Christmas season, physical stores will also be handling the Christmas season in a completely different way compared to many other countries. In Finland, the epidemic has spread far more slowly and shops have not been sources of transmission.
Ethical and premium products important for many Finnish operators
For the coming season, it is encouraging to see that consumption intentions in many important product groups have intensified right now. In interior design products and household appliances, shopping intentions are even at record highs compared to the whole of the 2010s.
“Consumers’ intentions to buy electronics and hobby equipment have also been a trend prior to the end-of-year season. However, it should be remembered that the weather in November and December will ultimately have a big impact on purchase decisions, such as the decision to buy sports equipment,” Kurjenoja says.
During the COVID-19 year, the importance of premium products has strengthened in the shopping path of sports equipment and daily consumer goods, as well as some electronic products. At the same time, the so-called forerunners of online shopping have started to pay more attention to the durability and origin of products and to doubt the product safety of online purchases from Asia.
“Especially changes in the attitude of online shoppers can strengthen many Finnish operators who do not compete with low prices. This is good news and important as the Christmas season draws closer,” Kurjenoja points out.
Black Friday launches Christmas commerce as early as November
December is still by far the most important month in terms of sales for Finnish commerce. However, its significance has begun to decrease slightly. Previously, Christmas commerce started around Independence Day, 6 December. Nowadays, the season kicks off with Black Friday campaigns. The slight weakening of December sales also means that sales will level off more than before for the other months as well.
“International market platforms and online stores have different promotional campaigns and targeted sales days that even out the distribution of digital shopping. The stores have their own loyalty customer campaigns and other promotions throughout the year and, as consumers, we do not focus on Christmas celebrations alone. For example, in the daily consumer goods trade, July is a very important month,” says Kurjenoja.
Not all stores will be participating in the Black Friday discount campaign – either here in Finland or elsewhere. Early discount campaigns can take a chunk out of the normally priced Christmas sales, and that does not always make sense. For some companies, on the other hand, the Black Friday campaign is not considered suitable for a strategy that emphasises sustainable consumption. It has also been noted in many countries that advertised discount rates are not always real, and this increases consumer suspicion.
Overall, the Christmas season last year increased normal household consumption by an average of about EUR 260.
Attachment: Joulukauppa 2020 (In Finnish)
For further information, please contact: Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 40 820 5378, firstname.lastname@example.org