Despite a challenging shopping/retail period in 2018, UK and US retailers are feeling optimistic ahead of the holiday season as they anticipate a 28% average year-on-year growth and a 25% year-on-year growth for Black Friday, according to new research from Yieldify.

The customer journey optimisation company released The Shape of Peak to Come report, which surveyed over 400 US and UK retail marketers. In addition, less than 10% of those surveyed predicted flat or negative results for Q4 2019 ahead of the holiday season.

US retailers feeling the buzz

However, the report found some to be more optimistic than others. US retailers were among the most optimistic, with almost half (49%) predicting a revenue boost of between 25-75% on last year versus just 33% who predict the same in the UK. Pure-play e-commerce retailers were less positive than multi-channel retailers, with one fifth (20%) predicting no change versus 5%.

The report also found evolving attitudes towards the key events of holiday season, namely Black Friday. While most retailers still plan on participating in Black Friday, a notable 22% of the more cautious pure-play e-commerce businesses said that they would be opting out. Those who do plan on participating will be offering fewer and smaller discounts than their multi-channel counterparts.

Rather than a Black Friday bonanza, retailers appear to be spreading discounts across the quarter. Price-slashing activity will reach a peak during the weeks leading up to the Christmas period when 85% plan to offer discounts. 

Meanwhile, more than half (58%) of retailers are planning to offer discounts across their entire range during the Christmas period – higher than on Black Friday (51%) or Cyber Monday (44%). US retailers are more likely to favour this approach to discounting, even on Black Friday, with 62% discounting across all ranges versus just 40% of their British counterparts – The Old Reading Room

Universal preparation

Regardless of the strategy, early preparation is near-universal this year. Over half (61%) of retail marketers have already started preparations for the holidays, with campaigns starting up to 3 to 6 months in advance. Overall, multichannel retailers were the most likely to start both planning and execution early. For instance, 52% of multichannel retailers had already started planning in July versus just 23.7% of pure-play e-commerce outfits. 

Top tactics

The tactics retailers will rely on to achieve the predicted revenue increases are varied but there are a few clear priorities. Email is very much still king for Black Friday, with 34% ranking it as their top tactic. Website personalisation was the next most popular tactic, increasing in popularity as peak progresses (as retailers start to learn more about their newly-acquired visitors). This was particularly evident among pure-play e-commerce retailers, with 32% rating it the top tactic for the holiday season.

“The report attests to the trends we’ve seen in recent years with our clients – what used to be a race to the bottom for discounts has evolved into a more diverse set of approaches to the traditional peak season. With competition stronger than ever, it pays to be different as much as it pays to discount,” said Jay Radia, CEO and founder of Yieldify.