As a retailer, you might be sick and tired of tinsel by mid-November but if you’re tempted to hold off on the decorating until December, think again. We’ve crunched the numbers and found a few surprising facts about Christmas shoppers.

For many people working in retail, December is the most profitable month of the year. It makes sense to treat the Christmas shopping rush with respect because let’s face it – January can be harsh.

Many believe that Christmas shopping reaches its frenzied peak around 22nd and 23rd of December. But, as it turns out, that’s not entirely correct.

To help you prepare for a rush of festive feet through your door, we sat down with our team of analysts and looked at the December sales figures from 2016. While most of us assume that the high street flies into a frenzy on the few days before Christmas, the data from our eight different markets tells a slightly different story.

When do people buy their Christmas gifts?

Local variations are small, though shoppers in some Southern European countries seem to buy their gifts a few days later than the Northern Europeans.

In the UK, a sled-load of Christmas shopping takes place at the beginning of the month. In 2016, the first weekend of December (including Friday) accounted for more than 16.5 per cent of the total revenue that month.

Saturday 3rd December was the busiest day in the UK overall. And according to iZettle data from a million card transactions, shoppers were especially early in Liverpool and Glasgow, followed by Cardiff, York and Sheffield.

Liverpool is the city with the most well-planned Christmas shoppers, with 40% of retail purchases being made in the first week of December.

In Belfast, however, 50 per cent of shoppers waited until the week before Christmas to purchase their gifts.

Weekdays tended to gain strength as the month went by, but Saturdays started to cool off as we approached Christmas.

Monday proved to be the slowest day for sales, but Sundays raced ahead (even outperforming weekdays,) so forfeit that weekend lie-in and keep your doors open if you want to see sales spike.


Staffing up for Christmas

When it comes to decorating, stocking up and hiring staff, our numbers suggest you should waste no time. Saturday 3rd and 9th were particularly busy, so stock the shelves and hire some elves – you’ll need all the help you can get.

If you have a few favourite products that you’re sure to see flying off the shelves, gift wrap a selection in advance. It’ll lower stress levels and free up some time for you and your customers. When your shop is decorated beautifully, well stocked and filled with happy staff, Christmas can be a joy on both sides of the counter. So take a look at our data, plan well and have a very happy Christmas!

Some key dates based on 2016 sales stats

  • December 2nd: The first Saturday could be the busiest day of December.
  • December 3rdThis Sunday may see well-prepared shoppers out in droves.
  • December 9thThis is the second Saturday of the month, and it’s filled with potential.
  • December 11thThis Monday was the slowest (pre-Christmas) day of the month in 2016.
  • December 21st-23rdPrepare for decent sales, but no real spikes in these few days.
  • December 24thYou may please a few last-minute shoppers, but our data shows that you may as well close early.
  • December 26th-31st: Unless you’re in the middle of a busy shopping district or running a boxing day sale, our data shows you could enjoy a few well-deserved days off here.

How do you make the most out of the profitable month of December? Get more tips from our previous read 5 ways to sleigh your Christmas sales!