Great eggspectations: what will Easter weekend hold for the European retail sector?

by ShopperTrak on 03-17-15

The shelves are lined with chocolate eggs, fluffy chicks and greeting cards, which can only mean one thing: Easter’s on its way.

Traditionally the first major shopping period of the year, retailers and shopping centres are ramping up their promotions to maximise profits over Easter weekend. What should these businesses ‘eggspect’ this year?

One of the challenging factors when predicting footfall is inconsistency in timing. The dates for Easter weekend can vary widely – in 2013, Easter fell in late March, whereas last year Easter Sunday was 20th April.

For 6 in 10 European retailers, earlier Easters perform better. This is good news for businesses in 2015, as Easter falls 3 weeks earlier than last year.

However, capitalising on Easter weekend activity relies on understanding footfall patterns day by day, as there is no consistent pattern of activity across the continent:

Although stores can’t open on Sunday, Easter traditionally boosts trade for Austrian retailers, with footfall up throughout the week beforehand. This activity peaks on Good Friday. The fact that stores and shopping centres are closed over the second half of the weekend also leads to a peak on the Tuesday following Easter.

Saturday is the most popular shopping day of Easter weekend, however it seems the French are more interested in spending time with their families; footfall is significantly lower on Easter Saturday than average weekends. There is a surge in activity on Good Friday, which outperforms Easter Monday in terms of retail traffic.

Whereas most regions have similar footfall levels on Good Friday and Easter Saturday, there’s a sharp difference between the two in Germany. As stores are closed on Good Friday, Saturday is naturally the most popular shopping day during Easter weekend, with consumer activity considerably higher than the usual Saturday average.

Throughout Easter weekend, footfall is significantly higher than ‘typical’ weeks in Ireland, with Good Friday actually outperforming Easter Saturday last year. There is a significant drop in retail activity on Easter Sunday, however, before figures pick up again on post-Easter.

Easter weekend is a tale of two halves for Italy, as equally strong performances on Good Friday and Easter Saturday are followed by a dramatic drop in Footfall on Sunday and Monday, as stores close on these days. Like many European regions, Saturday traffic is higher over Easter weekend than on weeks where there is no calendar event.

Unlike most regions, Poland’s consumer activity peaks on Good Friday and drops off dramatically on Easter Saturday. This is because the country hosts a special Święconka service that day, where baskets of Easter food are blessed in a church service.

Whereas most regions see retail traffic ebb and flow each day, Portugal’s remains fairly steady during Easter weekend. For two of the past four years, footfall has peaked on Good Friday, and then risen again the Saturday after Easter.

Surprisingly, Easter Sunday retail traffic is quite buoyant in Spain, which is a departure from other European regions. However the peak footfall day is Saturday, followed by Easter Monday. Consumer activity is also higher than average for the majority of the week leading up to Easter.

Switzerland follows the same footfall pattern as Poland, with activity peaking on Good Friday. In a contrast to other European nations, footfall is in fact lower than usual in the entire week leading up to Easter, only picking up again on the Tuesday following the weekend.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the UK follows the same footfall pattern as Ireland, with traffic levels higher than usual – although Easter Saturday is busier than Good Friday, which is slightly different. It’s also one of the only countries where retail activity does not rise after Easter weekend; it takes until the following Saturday to recover, when footfall is significantly higher than average.

To optimise your business for Easter weekend and beyond, check out our insights for retailers and insights for shopping centres.

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