Black Friday is just around the corner, and although the UK is still in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, consumers have already started spending in preparation for the Christmas season.
Taboola and Skimlinks, a Taboola company, analyzed UK readership and commerce data from the past 90 days to unveil early trends about this year’s Christmas shoppers, the brands and categories capturing spend so far, and the 2023 pop culture moments providing gifting inspiration this festive season. Advertisers can capitalize on these developing trends to fine-tune their holiday campaigns and boost sales during Q4.
Consumers are hunting for deals amidst cost of living crunch
Inflation rates finally began to fall in October, but British consumers are by no means returning to pre-pandemic financial norms. Two-thirds of consumers are reporting spending less on non-essentials as a result of cost of living increases, and nearly half are minimizing fuel use in their home to cut costs.
Despite this, Christmas sales are forecast to recover slightly from last year’s slump, growing by 3.3% to £84.9m. Additionally, the success of Amazon’s July Prime Day and October UK-specific Big Deals Day prompted spending from early Christmas shoppers, with online shopping revenues growing by 3.3% in the week of the October event.
The data suggests that UK consumers will be shopping mindfully, looking for deals and discounts this Christmas – and that a lot of Christmas shopping will already have been done. Over the past 90 days, Taboola’s readership data has highlighted an increasing emphasis on savings. Notably, there has been a 293% rise in queries related to “deals”, 193% increase in readership around “sales”, and an 84% rise in interest in “discounts.”
As consumers shop for deals, Black Friday is poised to take on a more important than ever role for retailers looking to capture a share of Christmas spending. Skimlinks data shows that in the first two weeks of November, Black Friday-related articles saw uplifts in sales (+106%), order value (+96%), EPC (+75%), and traffic (+52%). At the same time, readership around Christmas shopping surged by over 21,000% in the last 90 days, mainly picking up steam starting on the 5th November, three weeks before Black Friday.
The categories and retailers winning this Christmas season
As the festive season approaches, Skimlinks has delved into commerce data, identifying the categories and retailers set to succeed in 2023. Of the top 100 Black Friday articles from the first two weeks of November, over half focus on a single brand name, suggesting that many consumers have already set their heart on particular items and are just waiting for the best deal to pull the trigger. Within the remaining articles, deal round-ups are the most common article type, alluding to a significant category of consumer who is looking for the best deals to guide them in their gift choices.
There has been a 24% increase in conversions for Christmas-related content in the past 30 days, suggesting that consumers have moved beyond browsing and are actively shopping for gifts. Multi-category retailers like John Lewis, M&S and Etsy are emerging as top shopping destinations. Other high-converting gift-focused retailers include Boots, Abbott Lyon, Skims, Oodie and Papier.
Clothing and beauty are emerging as the top verticals in the UK, with conversions up 114% and 190% respectively in the first two weeks of November. Other categories that have seen uplifts in browsing and conversions include bedding, kitchenware and Christmas – suggesting that early Christmas shopping may not only be limited to gifts, but also encompass home decor, kitchen equipment and party outfits as people prepare to host family and friends over the festive period.
Also benefiting from the building festive cheer, advent calendars have surged in popularity, with non-traditional categories like beauty, alcohol, fashion and adult-themed advent calendars gaining popularity on the Skimlinks network this year.
The pop culture moments inspiring gifts in 2023 in a Barbie world
A few key pop culture moments defined the year 2023, both globally and in the UK. The “Summer of Barbie” swept us off our feet as the Barbie movie emerged as the highest grossing film of the year. The hype around the film successfully boosted Mattel sales, as indicated by the company’s Q3 earnings report, and it’s likely that the effect will continue into the festive season.
The UK is amongst the countries most likely to embrace Barbie-themed gifts this holiday season, based on pageviews in the past 90 days:
A Taylor Swift Christmas takeover
The Wall Street Journal dubbed 2023 “The Year of the $1,000 Concert Ticket,” underscoring fierce competition for tickets to high-profile events – most notably, Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour. Interest in Taylor Swift has not only turned the singer into a billionaire this year, but propelled The Eras Tour Film to break records as the highest grossing event cinema release ever in the UK and Ireland, earning £5.7m in just three days. Swift’s high-profile relationship with Kansas City Chiefs football player Travis Kelce has also kept her in the spotlight throughout the NFL season.
Taylor Swift’s 2023 “Swiftmas” store is available to UK fans, with 60+ ornaments from the 10 eras to choose from, alongside a curated “Holidays at Home” collection. According to one survey, 9% of US consumers plan to buy a Taylor Swift-related gift this year — whether tickets, merchandise or clothing. Time will tell whether this trend will be reflected across the pond, but pageview data from the past 90 days reveals the UK as #2 in the top five “Swiftie” countries, indicating strong potential for related gifts:
- United States: 50 million
- United Kingdom: 9.5 million
- Mexico: 2 million
- Spain: 1.4 million
- Brazil: 447,000
Skimlinks data also reveals that there’s been a 116% uplift in traffic within the clothing & accessories category for Taylor Swift-related content.
Harnessing holiday trends: practical tips for advertisers
The Christmas shopping period is already well underway, but advertisers can harness the emerging trends to optimize their campaigns and drive increased sales in November and December. Taboola’s 2023 Holiday Creative Playbook is packed with stats and tips to help advertisers win attention, making their ads stand out, and deliver results, including:
- Tailor your campaigns to resonate with cost-sensitive audiences: highlight great deals discounts and place price information front-and-center.
- Entice consumers still hunting for inspiration with gifting guides, advertorials and offers centered around gifting.
- Beyond gifting, clothing, homeware and kitchenware retailers can reference the preparations surrounding Christmas and New Year, helping consumers get themselves and their homes in the festive spirit.
- Consider resurfacing content related to this year’s biggest pop culture events – especially the Barbie movie and Eras tour – to drive sales for related products.