Department stores have historically seen 80-100 per cent higher sales in December than other months and generally have the strongest Christmas effect. In recent years, recreation goods and footwear/accessories have seen strengthened Christmas effects, while the department store uplift has weakened – all three now sit at around 80 per cent higher December sales.
This is likely to represent a diffusion of the Christmas effect from department stores to specialty stores. This is in line with the long-term decline of department store sales growth, as shoppers shift their spending to specialty retailers.
The next tier of the Christmas effect is clothing, liquor and electrical goods which see an uplift in December sales of between 45-60 per cent. All three categories have seen a decline in the Christmas effect in the last few years.
Hardware, building and garden supplies have seen the sharpest decline in Christmas effect of any category, from one of the strongest categories in the 1980s to one of the weakest now. Furniture and homewares saw a smaller uplift in 2018 compared with recent years, perhaps reflecting a decline in housing turnover and therefore the accompanying house-warming related Christmas gifts.
The Christmas effect for food categories is more stable than for non-food but also more modest. Dining out and takeaway show the weakest Christmas effect while specialised food retailers (butchers, bakeries, delis etc) show a stronger effect and benefit from heightened demand for holiday-specific ingredients and food.