LONDON — Footfall may have been down on Boxing Day, which marks the start of the winter sales in Britain, but for Selfridges, the pickings were rich.
The store, known for its bright yellow branding, said following a strong pre-Christmas trading period, it took in more than 4 million pounds in the first hours of the Boxing Day sale, which began Tuesday night online and Wednesday morning in-store.
Selfridges said it has already seen a 6 percent uplift on last year, and added that Boxing Day 2018 is on track to remain the retailer’s biggest trading day of the year. Selfridges doesn’t close until 9 p.m. local time, so final numbers are still unavailable.
The company said shoppers began arriving outside the Oxford Street store at 2:30 a.m. on Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, when estate owners and employers in Britain traditionally gave gifts to their employees. The store said it expected to see around 120,000 customers between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Wednesday.
Selfridges.com has seen the highest number of site visits to date, with 1.5 million customers visiting the site since Tuesday night, with “high double-digit growth” online compared with last year, it said.
So far the highest-performing departments have been women’s designer accessories, women’s designer clothing, men’s wear, kids’ wear and luggage. Selfridges said men’s wear has been registering “unexpectedly high” sales growth, while women’s shoes and men’s shoes are performing well ahead of expectations.
Earlier this year, Selfridges opened a new men’s concept space that mixes streetwear with designer and luxury brands. There is a skate bowl, a dedicated area for DJs and the part of the floor that has been given over to beauty and grooming.
The store said customers have been shopping in “higher-than-expected volumes of full-price items as well as indulging in bargain-hunting.”
Among the first 10 items that sold in the Boxing Day sale when doors opened were a Chloe Nile bag, which cost 804 pounds, down from 1,340 pounds; a Saint Laurent bag with a price tag of 625 pounds, down from 1,250 pounds, and a men’s Balenciaga sweater, which cost 415 pounds, reduced from 845 pounds.
“The customer response to the run-up to Christmas has been very successful, and the reaction to the sale so far today in each of our stores, but also online, has been outstanding. We are on course for another record-breaking Boxing Day opening,” said Meave Wall, Selfridges stores director.
In a separate statement, Springboard said Boxing Day footfall until about noon on Wednesday was down 4.2 percent year-over-year. This year marked the third consecutive decline in Boxing Day footfall, “which indicates the lessening in importance of Boxing Day as a trading day,” said Springboard, which measures footfall and retail activity at brick-and-mortar stores across the country.
It said one reason for the drop in footfall is “the almost continuous discounting that has been taking place by retailers this year, particularly over the period from Black Friday onward, which negates the reason to defer purchases to Boxing Day.”
Springboard added that many retailers offer greater discounts online than in-store, which discourages shoppers to visit retail destinations and physical stores.