Boxing Day sales forecast to plummet amid Omicron spread

Boxing Day sale
Online spending is expected to hit £1.43bn this Boxing Day.
// Total sales on 26 December to drop 10% compared to 2019 and down 1% on 2020
// Shoppers remain reluctant to hit the High Street amid Omicron, with sales set to drop 23% versus 2019

Boxing Day sales are forecast to fall on December 26 this year, with a 10 per cent slump compared to 2019 and a dip of 1 per cent on last year, according to a new report.

The annual Shopping for Christmas 2021 has estimated that Boxing Day sales will drop 10 per cent to £3.94 billion compared to 2019 figures (£4.39bn) and down from £3.97 billion in 2020.

Retailers are set to be hit hard with sales down for the fourth consecutive year despite fewer restrictions being in place compared with 2020 thanks to the spread of the Omicron variant.

READ MORE: All the retailers that will be closed on Boxing Day this year

As shoppers remain cautious in light of increased cases of Covid, High Street spend on Boxing Day is set to drop a staggering 23 per cent on 2019’s figures, from £3.25bn to £2.51bn.

The year-on-year comparison shows an 11 per cent uplift from £2.26 billion in 2020, however as non-essential retail remained closed last year this is not the significant boost retailers were hoping for.

Many retailers begin their Christmas sales period on Christmas Day, hoping for a much-needed sales boost to round off the golden quarter.

However, this year despite discounting, retailers are unlikely to see the results they’ve been hoping for as the report predicts that total spending between 25-31 December will reach £13.9 billion. This compares with £15.2 billion in 2019 and £13.8 billion in 2020 – a marginal 1 per cent uplift.

Online spending is expected to hit £1.43 billion this Boxing Day, a 25 per cent rise compared with 2019 sales of £1.14 billion, however this represents a 16 per cent drop from last Christmas when online sales hit £1.71 billion as the nation remained under lockdown.

VoucherCodes senior director, commercial Angus Drummond said: “The Boxing Day sales period is notoriously one of the biggest and best-known discounting events in the British retail calendar, but sadly one that has been most badly hit by Covid.

“This year, during the lead up to Christmas we witnessed retailers battle with the Omicron variant as consumers pulled away from in-store spending in a bid to remain safe and protect their Christmases. At the same time, uncertainty around a potential post-Christmas lockdown has dominated the public conversation, with many consumers preparing for a post-Christmas period under much tighter restrictions.

“Despite no such restrictions having been introduced, the report shows that uncertainties around lockdown and ongoing consumer anxieties around the virus will negatively impact the performance of Boxing Day sales, which are set to fall significantly behind those of 2019, before the pandemic began.

“With news of a potential lockdown having been prominent for over two weeks, it’s likely that many consumers will have made an effort to purchase the things they wanted before Christmas rather than leaving it to chance in the Boxing Day sales. This, coupled with the fresh memory of last year’s Boxing Day tightening of restrictions means that we anticipate consumers will be making the most of not being in lockdown this week by spending extra time with family and friends, prioritising this over shopping, which will ultimately further negatively impact sales.”

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