When will you shut up shop for Christmas?

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It’s just a month to Christmas Eve, which unless you’re planning on hand delivering parcels to your customers means just 30 days until you shut up shop for Christmas. That is if you’re planning to close for a break, unlike the high street the Internet never sleeps – I’ve yet to have a Christmas Day on eBay where I didn’t get some questions from potential customers and didn’t make a sale.

If you are closing your on line shops for Christmas when do you plan to do so? A recent study by Royal Mail shows two thirds of on line retailers plan to close early, with one in six closing their shops five days before Christmas. This is the busiest time of year for most retailers and if the high street shops sell out of that must have purchase, then the Internet is where many customers will be doing their last minute purchases.

“Christmas represents a pivotal time for many retailers, so it’s surprising to see that such a large proportion of them close their websites to orders earlier than they need to. Those retailers looking to match customers’ needs fully and capitalise on December sales opportunities should carefully consider whether this year they’re shutting up shop too early.”
– Gary Winter, Head of Fulfilment at Royal Mail

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue to accept orders right up to December 23rd for delivery on Christmas Eve, if you do then you need to make sure your customers know exactly when their item will arrive. Make sure you offer Royal Mail Special Delivery or a 24 hour courier option on all your listings. If you need a couple of days handling time make sure that your customers know your last posting date. Most important of all make sure you postage information is highlighted on your listings and customers are aware that they need to select a priority delivery service if they’re to get their items before the holiday starts.

To maximise sales you could take orders up until 23 December and have them delivered on Christmas Eve using priority services, but the latest recommended posting date for Second Class items is Saturday 18th December and Tuesday 21st December for First Class mail and packets. Also don’t forget if you’re going to use courier services such as ParcelForce24 you’ll need to book a collection well in advance unless you have a regular daily pick up. It’s unlikely that most couriers will be doing ad hoc collections on the 23rd December, so now is the time to plan how you’re going to deliver your last sales before Christmas.

Disclosure – Royal Mail advertise with TameBay

20 Responses

  1. After 3 years of online trading I have noticed that my sales fall off a cliff around the 18th December – after this date people do not trust that the item will arrive in time for Christmas. Those sales that you do get provide so much extra work in terms of emails / phones calls trying to track their item – even if you have just emailed them that morning to say it has been dispatched today that it is just not worth the hassel. I always close on the last posting day for second class mail just to make sure my stuff sent by first class mail gets there in time.

    I have also heard from a friend that Royal Mail are suspending their First Class 1 – 3 day guarantee over lead up to Christmas – anyone know if this is true?

  2. Finish on the 21st, holiday settings till the 28th, 2 days on then holiday settings from close of business wednesday 29th till close of buisness new years eve so they dont expect delivery up to new years. Goto have a few days off a year

  3. Last Christmas I stayed open right up until Christmas. I had several emails saying “If I order now can you get it to me by Christmas” These were right up to the 23/24th. My answer was always I can send it but this late there are no guarantees. In several cases with late after Last Posting Date items the item did make it and in others it did not. But at least I tried. Even on Christmas Day I was packing orders that had come in 24/25th. I take it that these were for items the buyer wanted for themselves rather than wanted for Christmas Presents for others. Obviously with these I posted as soon as the Post Office opened after Christmas. I had no problems with any of these customers-after all if they ignore last posting dates I cannot be expected to work miracles.

  4. There are plenty of pro’s and cons with selling online, especially with Ebay in the run up to Christmas. I agree with Chris that as long as you are clear and mention that you can/cannot guarantee that the item will arrive before christmas then it’s the buyer’s fault for not reading everything in the listing. At the end of the day it is YOUR business and if you can still be making money up to Christmas then why not keep trading?
    I wish anyone good luck who sells on Ebay. Without the dedicated sellers and of course inrigued buyers, Ebay wouldn’t still be going strong today.

  5. Due to the nature of what I sell, industrial catering equipment, it makes sense to close early. Will probably stop all listings around the 19th and open again in January. The one year I did keep everything running till Xmas eve was a bit of a disastor. Of the sales I can remember, 2 were NPB, 1 wanting shipping to a country I don’t ship to. One of the items sold and was paid for by credit card but never collected (and indeed is still sitting in the warehouse a year or so later).

  6. One major issue with selling in the run up to Xmas is feedback.

    December is the highest risk month for negative feedback and low DSR scoring.

    Factors in this are new and infrequent buyers who only shop in December on eBay and shipping services that are under pressure.

    So high December sales could cost you loss of fee discount in January against the highest eBay bill of the year!

    eBay are clever people!

  7. We don’t really sell Christmasy stuff, so last post is the 22nd.
    Sale starts on the 24th anyway.

    I am away for Xmas, so dispatch starts the following week..

    Another year….job done>

  8. Well if I don’t get time to say it later I Wish Everybody a Very Happy and Successful Christmas and more to the point a Happy, Successful and Prosperous New Year. After all didn’t somebody one say Another Year Older and Deeper in Debt.

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