What you need to know

As most seasonal expenditure is largely discretionary, spending on the seasonal retail events is particularly vulnerable to macroeconomic trends. In 2018, spending on the Autumn/Winter events was strong, with sales likely boosted by factors such as low unemployment and growth in real wages. However, the climate looks to have changed as the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is beginning to impact on consumer confidence. There are signals that British consumers are becoming more cautious, and aligning with this trend, spending on Valentine’s Day fell in 2019.

Back-to-school is the least exposed to broader economic trends, and spending is considered essential amongst most parents. Although price competition is intense, particularly in the school uniform category, preparation for the new school year is increasingly expensive for parents. However, retailers have an opportunity to focus on an improved customer shopping experience, which would help offset pricing competition and be a differentiating point in a crowded market.

Going forward, retailers will need to work hard to encourage the levels of spending witnessed in 2018. Halloween and Bonfire Night will be susceptible to shifts in consumer confidence in the same way Valentine’s Day was in 2019. If the political backdrop does not improve, retailers should learn from this and target shoppers appropriately in the run-up to these events. The drop in average spend per person for Valentine’s Day is important and suggests that value for money is going to be important to consumers in the year ahead.

Products covered in this Report

This Report focuses on four of the major annual retail events that fall in the Autumn/Winter months: Back-to-School, Halloween, Bonfire Night and Valentine’s Day.

Although we discuss Black Friday and Christmas in some sections to give context to the wider seasonal shopping market, these two events are not included in the scope of this Report, and are therefore excluded from the market size and consumer research. More detailed research on Black Friday and Christmas can be found in Mintel’s Christmas Gift Buying – UK, February 2019 Report.

The market size for this Report covers the four major annual retail events that fall in the Autumn/Winter months (excluding Black Friday and Christmas): Back-to-School, Halloween, Bonfire Night and Valentine’s Day.

All market sizes exclude spending on leisure activities, but estimates for this kind of spending have also been made wherever appropriate to give more context to the wider market and changes in consumer behaviour.

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