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As we approach the festive season in the UK, it's time for retailers and marketers to roll up their sleeves and prepare for one of the most exciting and critical periods of the year. Q4 is a time of festive cheer, gift-giving, and a shopping frenzy that drives revenue for businesses across the country.

In a year marked by economic uncertainty and inflationary pressures, we find ourselves at a crossroads. What worked in the past may not be the optimal strategy for this Q4. Achieving and surpassing year-over-year targets in this environment requires more than just a touch of holiday magic. To truly shine amongst the fierce competition, businesses must equip themselves with a comprehensive understanding of how their customers tick, what fuels their decisions, and where their preferences lead.

Let's get into it

An intriguing trend in recent years indicates that UK consumers have taken a proactive approach, embarking on their quest for Black Friday deals as early as the beginning of October, a full six weeks in advance of the event. 

This “early bird” approach shows the pronounced and growing importance of Black Friday in the UK, despite its slow start. Regardless of economic fluctuations, holiday retail sales continue to rise, signifying the readiness of UK consumers to participate in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping extravaganza.

Early bird

How do your consumers behave?

Delving into the world of holiday shoppers in the UK reveals a diverse spectrum of behaviours:

  • Earlybird Shoppers make up 50% of the shopping force. These meticulous planners initiate their holiday shopping early, aiming to distribute their expenditures evenly across the season.

  • 74% of consumers remain open and undecided. This second segment comprises UK shoppers who wholeheartedly embrace the holiday shopping season without a predetermined plan. For them, effective brand exposure can serve as a guiding compass amid the multitude of choices.

  • 28% of shoppers prefer to be patient. This third group of UK shoppers opt for a patient approach, awaiting opportune moments when items go on sale before making their purchases.

  • 46% wait to buy themselves gifts in the January Sales. Lastly, there are those who prefer to wait until January to acquire gifts, enticed by the prospect of better deals, often for themselves.

Understanding these diverse shopping behaviours is pivotal for crafting marketing strategies tailored to resonate with each segment of UK consumers.

Understanding how consumers behave is crucial for brands and businesses, especially as we come into Q4 in 2023, which presents a complex landscape. This year, we're seeing a mix of signals due to contrasting factors: excitement as the pandemic recedes, coupled with caution amid economic uncertainties. In a nutshell, consumers are likely to spend, but they'll be more selective, seeking out high-quality experiences that combine the digital convenience of the pandemic era with the comfort of traditional times.

Gen Z are a buying powerhouse

UK customers span various age groups and exhibit distinct preferences and behaviours during Q4. For instance, Gen Z is emerging as a dominant buying force in the UK. They remain undeterred by economic challenges, preserving their discretionary spending power. Understanding their role within the UK consumer landscape is pivotal. If Gen Z is your target demographic within the UK, a dedicated focus on targeted messaging through their preferred channels and tailored triggers is essential.

However, it's imperative to recognise that a substantial portion of UK shoppers - 73% to be precise - are actively seeking deals this year, with 32% planning to utilise buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options within the UK. This highlights the significance of discounting. Nevertheless, your approach to discounts should be underpinned by a clear understanding of customer data.


The digital shift in consumer behaviour is undeniable within the UK. The pervasiveness of mobiles has made it exceedingly convenient for UK shoppers to make purchases via their phones. Over the past three years, mobile conversions have outpaced desktop conversions in the UK, with mobile commerce surpassing desktop for the first time in 2021, accounting for 49% of conversions compared to 48% for desktop. This trend has continued to rise in 2023.

Mobile conversions

In response, UK retailers must ensure that their websites are optimised for mobile devices, offering a seamless shopping experience. Fast page loading speeds and relevant content are really important not only to be seen by your target audience but also to keep them engaged. 

If you’re wondering how to engage customers with their online shopping and push them down the funnel, then here are a few of our suggestions:

  • Sending abandoned cart reminders
  • Notifying customers of price drops or restocked items
  • Personalised emails that promote things relevant to your customer’s interest.

On top of online, it's important to acknowledge the resurgence of brick-and-mortar stores within the UK post-pandemic. People going into stores physically has risen back to its pre-pandemic levels. Diversifying your presence (if that is possible for your business) is a great way to capture a larger audience.

Tips for Retailers and Marketers

Let’s get into the practical, here are some tips to shine in Q4:

Stay Connected on Socials It’s important to keep a close eye on social media. This helps you understand what people are saying about your brand, their interests, and any hurdles they face while shopping.

Share the Love with Exclusivity Show some love to your loyal customers with exclusive treats like early access to special items, discounts, or even VIP treatment. Everyone loves feeling like a VIP, right?

Get Personal and Stay on Target Make your messages personal and aim them where they count. Think of it as talking to a friend rather than sending generic stuff. By doing this, you're more likely to get people to come back for more.

Turn Shopping into a Game It’s a buzzword often heard in marketing, ‘Gamification’, but you should give it a go! Try out fun games and challenges, especially if you want to win over the Gen Z crowd. Games are a great way to make your brand more exciting and keep folks engaged.

Send Emails with Heart Craft emails that really speak to your customers, showing them the stuff they'll actually want to buy. Nobody likes junk mail.

To wrap it all up

The holiday season undoubtedly yields a surge in revenue, but you have to think beyond acquiring new customers within the short term. It’s just as important to work at retaining these newfound customers throughout the year.

Now you're all set to ace Q4 in the UK, and remember, just be yourself (but in a really, really cool way)!

Sarah McCarthy
Post by Sarah McCarthy
October 26, 2023