Are Boxing Day Sales in the UK More Popular Than Black Friday Sales? British Consumers Say Yes.

Boxing Day Sales in the UK

I once heard that “Boxing Day is now considered the new Black Friday.” That same year, I also read the headline: “Retailers should give up Boxing Day sales.” 

So, which is it?

Forty-eight percent of British consumers we surveyed recently said Boxing Day is the most popular shopping day of the year within the UK, while 45 percent voted for Black Friday.

It was a close one, so naturally, I was keen to find out more. Once again, I fell deep into an Internet rabbit hole and asked my colleagues in Klaviyo’s business intelligence team for yet another favor. (Thanks Amanda!)

But first, for those of you who are less familiar with Boxing Day sales, let me pop my fake history professor’s hat on for a moment and tell you a little about them.

Boxing Day (aka December 26) is a national holiday in the UK and other British Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. 

While the exact origins of this holiday are disputed, most agree that it could have something to do with wealthy aristocrats and families giving “Christmas Boxes” full of small gifts, money, or leftovers from their Christmas dinner to their staff or the needy on the day after Christmas.

Today, the tradition looks a little—alright, a lot—different from the olden days. Retailers of all shapes and sizes now use Boxing Day as the perfect opportunity to close out the year strong. Orders for heavily discounted products, end of season stock, and anything else that has enticed a customer to snap up a bargain after Christmas come flooding in.

Boxing Day sales now also usually last for over a week. They sometimes start a few days before Christmas—as early as December 23—and they often roll into January and New Year sales, meaning consumers in the UK can look forward to almost a month’s worth of discounts through Christmas and into late January. Lucky us, huh?

But are Boxing Day sales in the UK more popular than Black Friday sales?

Some British consumers seem to think so.

When we asked nearly 1,000 consumers across France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK, “What is the biggest shopping day of the year within your country?,” the replies from British consumers were a bit of a wildcard.

While the majority of responses from other countries were about Black Friday, Boxing Day sales outnumbered all other shopping days mentioned by consumers from the UK. 

So I thought I’d swap my history professor’s hat for a detective’s cap and put this sentiment to the test.

I wanted to know what Klaviyo’s 2019 sales data looks like for British customers across the Cyber Weekend and Boxing Day shopping periods, so I could compare the two and offer you some kind of conclusive answer to the question, “Are Boxing Day sales more popular than Black Friday sales in the UK?”

With help from Amanda Keshian on Klaviyo’s business intelligence team, here’s a quick look at what we found out.

Consumers from the UK spent an incredible $38.4 million with Klaviyo’s customers on Black Friday last year and they spent over $96.5 million across the entire Cyber Weekend.

As for Boxing Day, consumers in the UK spent $10.3 million with Klaviyo’s customers and had a total spend of over $47.7 million from December 26, 2019 to the end of the year.

Remember that these figures are just for UK customers shopping with businesses using Klaviyo. They don’t include other countries that celebrate Boxing Day like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Still, the numbers for both sales periods are pretty amazing, don’t you agree?

These figures might highlight Black Friday’s overwhelming popularity within the UK, yet the sales figures for Boxing Day and the days just after are not to be sniffed at, suggesting Boxing Day sales still very much have their place within your post-Christmas holiday marketing strategy.

I’m sure—like me—you have questions.

Did businesses focus more on Black Friday sales rather than Boxing Day sales last year, perhaps prompting this difference in dollar spend in the UK?

How could store closures affect Boxing Day sales this year? 

And how could they be affected by consumers shopping earlier in the holiday season this year, as we established in our European survey?

Well, the not-so-shocking truth is that Boxing Day sales will likely be online this year, so we won’t see the usual post-Christmas rush to brick-and-mortar shops.

In the past, Boxing Day sales have largely been associated with bigger and more traditional brick-and-mortar retailers like Currys PC World, DFS, and John Lewis.

Yet last year, in-store foot traffic was down by 10.6 percent on Boxing Day—its biggest annual decline since 2010. This, coupled with the coronavirus crisis this year, means retailers of all sizes will need to improve their online presence to not miss out on the opportunity that comes from more people shopping from home than ever before.

I imagine there’s also a significant opportunity for smaller businesses to do more with Boxing Day sales this year than any other as well. Some email inspiration is coming up shortly to help you out with your promotions!

As for the other unanswered question, “How could Boxing Day sales be affected by consumers shopping earlier in the holiday season this year?,” my thoughts are that a clever and thoughtful spin on marketing could still prompt a flood of sales on Boxing Day and the days afterward.

Think about it. Boxing Day sales offer more value to customers than just the chance to buy belated gifts at discounted prices.

Customers who’ve missed out on something they wanted for Christmas might want to spend their holiday money and gift cards—or just make the most of a good discount—and get what they want in a Boxing Day sale.

Stay-at-home orders have also prompted people to turn to DIY and redecorating their homes this year. Could this cause a large influx of sales on Boxing Day from customers who are waiting until then to make big furniture purchases at discounted prices?

Even if British consumers have been shopping earlier in the holiday season this year, I think there’s still room for Boxing Day sales—especially if more and more customers start thinking of online shopping when they think about Boxing Day sales and discounts.

If you have a large fan base in the UK, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, Boxing Day sales are certainly something to consider—especially this year.

Real-life examples of Boxing Day promotions for inspiration

If you want to wrap up this year with a bright and beautiful Boxing Day bow then here’s some inspiration for your email campaigns and Boxing Day promotions.

1 | Discount-focused emails

Consumers expect large discounts at this time of the year, and often, emails focus heavily on the discounts—and less on the products—to entice subscribers into clicking too-good-to-miss calls-to-action (CTAs).

Take a look at this email from the popular British furniture retailer, Oak Furnitureland, promoting their Boxing Day sale last year.

Oak Furnitureland Boxing Day Email

Their email included a countdown timer to create a sense of urgency for their Boxing Day sale, which ended at midnight, while the rest of the email displayed large CTAs to entice subscribers into clicking through to the brand’s website to see exactly which furniture was discounted and by how much. 

Their email also included an additional offer to increase the brand’s average order value (AOV) where customers could claim two free accessories worth up to £600—but only if they spent over £1,500 first.

Oak Furnitureland sent their first email in the afternoon on Christmas Day and then another email early in the morning on Boxing Day. This may have helped them to beat the Boxing Day rush—not just for customers hurrying to the shops to secure discounted products but in the battle of the inbox, as well.

Last year, Jason Gordon, lead consumer analytics partner at Deloitte predicted this would be a common sight, saying, “We anticipate many Boxing Day discounts to go live online on Christmas Day itself, those browsing perhaps buying the one present they didn’t receive.”

Discount-focused Boxing Day emails aren’t reserved just for furniture and big-box retailers, though. Check out this email sent by the British lifestyle brand, Skinnydip London last year.

Skinnydip London Boxing Day EmailTheir email—while still in keeping with their brand voice—is quite typical of what you’ll see many retailers and ecommerce businesses sending their subscribers on Boxing Day. The mega 50 percent discount is unmissable and the CTAs are simple to entice subscribers to click to find out more.

Example subject lines:

  • Boxing Day Sale: Get 20% off everything!
  • Our Best Ever Boxing Day SALE! £50 off all [insert product category]
  • Surprise! MEGA 50% Off Boxing Day Sale

Something else to consider when writing your subject lines is whether a percentage-off or dollars-off promotion would be more enticing for your subscribers. 

Abby Gettys, customer support enablement specialist at Klaviyo, has observed, “the better” discount depends on perceived value. 

“I typically see the offer that sounds higher outperforms other offers. So if the dollar amount is $50 off and the percentage is 10 percent off, even if the 10 percent off equates to more than $50, $50 will likely get the best results,” she said.

2 | Thoughtful and timely email copy

Deep discounts aren’t the only thing that’ll entice customers to spend their hard-earned dollars on Boxing Day. 

Time your emails just right and focus your copy on something else your subscribers might be thinking about and you’ll boost excitement for your offers in a different kind of way.

Take this email from Evolve Beauty, an award-winning natural skincare brand, for example.

Evolve Beauty Boxing Day Email

Although an enticing 25 percent discount is included, there’s a thoughtful note from the founder at the top of the email, which talks about treating yourself and picking up belated gifts—two things their customers might just be thinking about on Boxing Day.

Contemporary furniture retailer, Danetti is another great example of a brand using thoughtful and timely email copy to attract some sales.

They sent two emails on Boxing Day last year—once in the morning and again in the evening—so they were less likely to interrupt customers’ festivities with friends and family. 

But it was their evening email that really grabbed my attention. It focused on discounted beds and mattresses just when their subscribers were thinking about turning in, so it made total sense for them to receive an email about beds at this time.

Danetti Boxing Day Email

The best bit? You don’t need to worry about timezones when trying this.

Smart email marketing platforms enable you to send emails based on subscriber location or timezone, so all you have to think about is when you want your subscribers to read your email and the rest will be worked out for you. Simple, right?

Example subject lines:

  • Didn’t get what you wanted? Grab it now – 30% off!
  • Ring in the new year with the [insert product name] you’ve always wanted

3 | A week of sales

Who says Boxing Day sales and promotions only have to last for one day? 

For the past few years, Boxing Day sales have been starting earlier and earlier for some retailers and they’re now sometimes included in a prolonged Boxing Week sales event.

While I’m not suggesting you go crazy, a longer sale period might help to keep the orders flooding in through the days in between Boxing Day and the new year, which can be a little quiet once the usual Boxing Day frenzy has come to a halt.

I think Bang & Strike, a premium men’s underwear brand, hit the right note last year when the team sent a series of simple emails starting on Boxing Day and leading up to the new year. By sending three emails across twelve days, they didn’t overdo it.

Bang & Strike Boxing Day Email

Example subject lines:

  • Let the celebrations continue! Get up to 35% off.
  • Boxing Week Sale! Save up to 50% + FREE Shipping

4 | Winter sales

Some brands choose to focus their copy around “Winter Sales” rather than “Boxing Day Sales,” but the emails are still sent on the same day. 

Could this help you to stand out in a sea of Boxing Day emails?

Holland Cooper, a luxury British-made tweed clothing brand, did just this with their winter sale last year.

The team also used wintery imagery in their email and took the time to showcase some of their clothing that would be ideal winter warmers—very fitting for an email sent at this time of year.

Holland Cooper Boxing Day Email

Natural Baby Shower, an expert in eco-friendly baby products, is another brand that promoted a winter sale on Boxing Day last year.

While the products on sale were spread across all kinds of categories, the email’s featured image was winter-focused to help set the tone for the sale and the rest of the email.

Natural Baby Shower Boxing Day Email

Example subject lines:

  • ⛄ Woohoo! Up to 70% off Winter Sale starts NOW.
  • Don’t miss our BIG winter sale! 50% off everything
  • Brrr! You know what that means… WINTER SALE 50% OFF!

5 | Early January-themed emails

I’ve already alluded to a longer Boxing Day sales period, but theming your emails around the new year and all the resolutions your customers plan on breaking—I mean NOT breaking—every single year could be a big hit if this makes sense for your brand.

Sports and fitness or wellness and nutrition brands could benefit especially well from something like this.

Nuun, experts in hydration and electrolyte products, tried something very interesting last year. 

Instead of focusing on the usual sales and discount emails seen at this time of the year, they launched a free eight-week training program delivered via email.

Nuun Boxing Day Email

Their copy used phrases like “start the year off strong” and “get a jumpstart on your goals,” which would have resonated especially well with their subscribers and customer base.

A free email course like this also helps to position Nuun as an authority on fitness, helping the brand to grow its community online, which would invariably lead to more sales.

Tracksmith, a Boston-based running apparel brand, is another great example of a brand that focused its copy on its customers’ new year resolutions and goals—but the team also mopped up some fast sales at the same time.

Tracksmith launched a calendar on December 26 to help its customers get a headstart on their running goals—perfect timing for anyone worrying about a post-Turkey-with-all-the-trimmings exercise slump.

Tracksmith Boxing Day EmailBy sending these January-focused emails in December, both brands immediately got a headstart on the competition to start the new year off strong.

Example subject lines:

  • Get a headstart on your resolutions: 15% off ALL sportswear
  • New Year, New You: 25% off self-care essentials (you deserve it!)
  • 7 must-haves if you’re going vegan in January

Beyond Boxing Day

My final question to you is this: How much focus do you think you’ll put on Boxing Day sales this year? 

I like to think the millions of dollars coming in after Christmas is enough to persuade you to consider what your post-Christmas holiday marketing strategy will look like.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to start planning how you’ll compete against other brands sending sales emails and non-promotional emails at this time of year, how you’ll communicate with empathy during these challenging times, and whether there are any other popular shopping days besides Black Friday and Boxing Day that you might want to target your promotions around.

Curious about the other shopping days that are popular with European consumers? Take a look at the findings.

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