UK retailers close 2022 with online sales lift – up +26% – as Boxing Day boost sees shoppers snap up bargains

A Boxing Day boost helped retailers defy cost-of-living warnings on Christmas performance and close out a strong end to Peak Trading 2022. Digital revenues in the last week of December rose +26% year-on-year, according to the latest data from Wunderkind, the leading performance marketing channel that scales one-to-one messages for retailers and brands.

Data from Wunderkind’s Marketing Pulse Index, which analysed over 84,200 digital shopper journeys, revealed that both traffic and online sales rose on Boxing Day compared with 2021, as price-sensitive shoppers looked to snap up bargains and discounts.

Defying fears that the cost-of-living crisis might take the shine off festive performance, the Boxing Day boost prompted a strong last week in December (26 Dec – 01 January) trading, with UK retailers seeing significant upticks on 2021, with web traffic up +44.4% and online sales surging +26% year-on-year.

Web traffic patterns mirrored those of 2021, remaining steady in the run-up to Christmas Day before seeing a significant Boxing Day increase to web visitor numbers.  However, 2022 saw a significantly greater volume of online shoppers browsing compared to 2021 throughout December.

Digital window shopping in the week preceding Christmas (19 – 25 Dec inclusive) saw a +32.9% year-on-year increase, with web traffic in the week after Christmas (26 Dec – 01 Jan inclusive) rising even higher, up +44.4% compared to 2021.

On Boxing Day itself (26 December 2022) online visitors to UK retailers’ websites jumped +41% compared to 2021, representing a +54.7% week-on-week increase in online shopper counts. 

Separate data from Barclaycard suggested the average UK shopper would each spend £229 in the post-Christmas sales, with gadgets and laptops the most sought-after goods, with 42% of UK consumers wanting to secure a deal on their tech compared to just 18% in 2021.  While on the High Street, Sensormatic’s data showed London footfall rose 11.1% on Boxing Day.

Wulfric Light-Wilkinson, General Manager at International at Wunderkind, commented: “Following some gloomy pre-Christmas forecasts and numerous warnings that the cost-of-living crisis would impact the critical Christmas trading period, digital retailers have reason to be cautiously optimistic after seeing the Boxing Day boost.  This helped them close out Peak Trading 2022 with a stronger than anticipated performance.  However, retailers certainly won’t be resting on their laurels.” 

“With reduced consumer spending power, brands are very aware that every conversion is getting harder to win.  With buying journeys lengthening amid increased spending caution, retailers will need to consider how they capture new shopper data to power longer term, more one-to-one engagement with their customers.  Leveraging first-party data to deliver rich, relevant and bespoke interactions will help drive repeat custom and increase loyalty.”

This year, Boxing Day sales surpassed Super Saturday, one of the key pre-Christmas trading dates, with +19.2% more online revenue generated on 26 December vs Super Saturday this year.  However, the traditional discounting event plays second fiddle to Black Friday, with UK online retailers taking +143.6% more digital sales on Black Friday versus Boxing Day this year, according to Wunderkind’s data.


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