In Western Europe, November and December account for a fifth of annual retail sales. However, consumers aren’t spending more over the holiday period; they are just shifting their spending earlier in the shopping season. Forrester expects European online sales over the holiday period to grow 12.5% compared to 2014. In the UK, heavy discounting, notably as a result of Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions, has a huge impact on holiday shopping.

  • Holiday spending is of critical importance to retailers. In 2014, Amazon traded one-third of its retail sales in the last three months of the year. And in the UK, 19% of annual retail sales happen in the six-week run-up to Christmas. Consumers spend more online during the holiday period and buy from more retail categories than they do during the rest of the year. Toys, jewelry, perfume, and videos are among the most popular categories bought online.
  • UK retailers embrace Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The majority of UK retailers participated in Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in 2014. In fact, nearly one-fifth of all online sales in the eight weeks leading up to December 27, 2014 happened in the week of Black Friday. And for UK retailer John Lewis, its sales in Black Friday week overtook its sales in Christmas week.

In the US, consumer confidence reports show that Americans have more money in their pockets than they did last year and are spending more on discretionary purchases like eating out. Back-to-school promotions during July and August were the last big shopping event before the holidays and saw strong retail growth, which indicates increased consumer confidence. In 2014, the average US shopper spent $805 on holiday gifts, with the majority of sales occurring during Thanksgiving weekend.

  • Web-influenced holiday retail sales will be strong. Web-influenced selling will see continued growth, with 60% of holiday shoppers planning to use the Internet to help them decide on their purchases, either online or offline. And while promotions and advertising drive shoppers to stores on Black Friday, web traffic and online purchases will peak on Cyber Monday and Green Monday.
  • Online holiday retail sales will see the strongest growth. Forrester expects US households to spend $95.5 billion online this holiday season — 11% growth over last year. eCommerce accounts for 10% of annual retail sales in the US but 14% during the holidays. Cyber Monday and Green Monday are two important online holiday shopping days for retailers — together, they account for about 7% of the US online holiday season’s sales.