The Golden Quarter 2018

David Marrinan Hayes


David Marrinan-Hayes

Ve and its CEO will bring you data insights from 5,000 websites and 540M shopper journeys in the lead up to and during the Christmas trading period, as well as expert commentary on the latest consumer trends, from the UK retail sector. Click here to download full details on what we'll offer across 12 dates throughout the Golden Quarter.


For journalists wishing to receive updates on emerging trends and insights during the Golden Quarter, please contact

Manic Monday a Hit with Online Shoppers as Golden Quarter Regains Momentum

We all know about Black Friday, Cyber Monday and increasingly the entire Cyber Week but one of the lesser lights of the Golden Quarter is so-called Manic Monday. Falling each year on the first Monday of December, Manic Monday has been big business for retailers in the past as Christmas shopping revs up, although this has been distorted in recent years with the rampant Black Friday only increasing in popularity year after year.

However, Ve stats show that there is still a lot of value in this date for retailers who are ready to keep up the momentum. Compared to the average day, shopping sessions were up only up a mere 12% but sales increased substantially by almost 50% with browsers averaging 5 minutes on each site and spending £64 per transaction in the UK.


Uplift in sales


Uplift in traffic


Average order value

However, Ve stats show that there is still a lot of value in this date for retailers who are ready to keep up the momentum. Compared to the average day, shopping sessions were up only up a mere 12% but sales increased substantially by almost 50% with browsers averaging 5 minutes on each site and spending £65 per transaction in the UK.

Retailers Enjoy 20% Increase in Display Ad Conversion Rates on Cyber Monday as 'Retargeting Tuesday' Falls Short

Black Black Friday Image

Latest insights from display advertising campaigns have shown that the traditional online shopping calendar has been altered further by the introduction of Amazon’s Black Friday week, with display advertising conversion rates up a massive 20 per cent on the week before Black Friday.

Conversion rates for display ads, defined as the percentage of ad impressions that result in a purchase, ramped up all week (19th -26th November) to peak on Cyber Monday by further 20 per cent - just ahead of Black Friday – revealing the true value in display advertising at key points during the Golden Quarter.

‘Retargeting Tuesday’ (27th November) has in the past been a boon for brands looking to attract customers who showed interest but failed to buy over the Black Friday weekend. However, with conversions rates dropping by 40 per cent, it seems the extended shopping period initiated by Amazon but now imitated by many other retailers has left consumers fatigued and less willing to spend by Tuesday.

David Marrinan-Hayes, CEO at Ve, said:

“Our advice would be to use this week to take a breath and recoup for December by transferring some display budget from this week to the days surrounding emerging red-letter days for sales such as Manic Monday (3rd December) and Green Monday (10th December) as a way to reduce budget spend and increase marketing performance.”

“Retailers can’t continue like this” - Little Mistress CEO Discusses the Impact Flash Sales are Having on the UK Retail Sector as Ve Reveals 5x Increase in Online Sales During Black Friday Weekend Compared to an Average Day

Ve Global (Ve) has revealed that during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, online sales increased by a massive 34 per cent compared to last year, with customers spending on average £116 across the two days.

In its latest update on the online performance of the UK retail sector during the festive shopping season, Ve analysed more than a million browsing sessions and found sales were also up by a substantial 468 per cent compared to an average shopping day.

For the second consecutive year, Ve found that Black Friday displaced Cyber Monday as the day of choice for online consumers, with 41 per cent more sales, 32 per cent more traffic and on average an extra £28 spent per purchase registered on Friday over Monday.

Other insights found that consumers spent more time onsite compared to last year, with the average shopper browsing for 7 minutes – up roughly 2 and a half minutes compared to last year – and bounce rates fell by 13 per cent for fashion and consumer electronic brands.

Ve CEO David Marrinan-Hayes, said:

“Despite Amazon and other Internet retailers triggering seasonal discounts earlier in the month, there’s no mistaking that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now the biggest online sales events in the UK eCommerce calendar.”

“What’s good to see is that consumers are spending more and more time online to research the best deals possible. This increase in browsing time gives UK retailers an opportunity to grow their customer base but only if they’ve optimised their sites with the acquisition and engagement technologies that take advantage of this increase in traffic.”

As part of its oncoming commentary on the ‘Golden Quarter’ which includes gleaning insights from its clients, Ve spoke to Little Mistress CEO Mark Ashton on why retailers are ‘scared stiff’ of losing out over this period and why there’s a growing need to go back to the traditional festive sales calendar.

“Retailers are scared stiff of not taking money and losing market share over this period.”

“You’ve got the behemoths spending outrageous sums to be placed at the top of every online search, reduced profits due to retailers discounting their goods earlier and for longer periods each year, and proposed Government policies that don’t seem to help brands online or on the high street. Put simply, retailers can’t continue like this.”

“There’s only so much money for all retailers to share. Add to this that the percentage share spend rate has doubled in online spending since 2013 to 20 per cent, and what you’re left with is a recipe for disaster for many who aren’t agile or savvy enough to react.”

Traditionally, November and December could make up to 40 per cent of your year in terms of gross profit and turnover, with most retailers relying upon this to financially plot out their first quarter in the following year. Now, it looks like we are heading for a fraction of that gross profit, and turnover will suffer if we don’t keep up with the Joneses of discount. That needs to change.”

“The Golden Quarter that’s emerged over the past three years is a 100-metre dash of sorts. Retailers are on the starting line in November and can’t wait to go before the B of the bang has sounded in order to grab their share. The problem is that in the current climate, they don’t stop running until January.”

“This race to the bottom isn’t good for retailers. You sell the majority of your stock at a heavily discounted rate and can’t replenish it quick enough for the remainder of the year. I’d love to see the industry go back to how things were traditionally, so consumers shopped how they used to shop.”

“But in order for that to happen, the big brands and retailers would need to sit around a table and all agree to stick to key sales dates so there’s a start and an end to the discounting. This is what I hope Mike Ashley will bring up with MPs when he meets with them on 3rd December to discuss how we can revive our town centres.”

On the proposed digital services tax announced by the Chancellor in this year’s budget, Ashton goes on to add that penalising digital companies may be the wrong approach if the goal is to save the high street.

“As an online business with a growing high street presence, our rent is predominately paid to Google: PPC, SEO, and other forms of paid advertising. Yes, many online retailers do not pay rent or sign leases, but there’s still considerable charges if you want to attract audiences to your site.”

“Instead of penalising digital businesses, I believe the Government should reduce the tax paid by those operating on the high street and by a considerable amount. At least by double digits if they really want to see a turnaround in the immediate term.”

On offering advice to retailers as to how they could improve their outlook for the Golden Quarter, Ashton believes brands should be working hard to create a ‘value exchange’ between brands and those customers who’ve agreed to share their personal data.

“We’ve always invested heavily in the customer experience and that includes trying to surface the clothes our customers want in the shape, size and style that they love.”

“In order for us to achieve this, we’re working closely with Ve Global to understand our customers in greater detail and develop onsite technologies that offer more meaningful online experiences for each individual. I believe other brands should follow suit if they want to see more returning customers and sales, by valuing the trust consumers place in them when offering up their data.”

Ve will be delivering online consumer data insights and expert commentary on trends emerging during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and those key dates throughout November, December and early January, otherwise known as ‘The Golden Quarter’. You can sign up for updates, here:

UK Retailers Finally Reaching ‘Always-on Shoppers’ in the Run up to Christmas

Black Black Friday Image

The proportion of Britons using their smartphones to make purchases online during the lead up to Christmas is up a massive 44% compared to last year, according to the latest Ve consumer behaviour data with predictions mobile sales will rise to over 50% during the Black Friday weekend – the unofficial start of the festive shopping period.


Increase in mobile sales


Decrease in mobile bounce rates


Increase in mobile browsing sessions

The learnings are taken from a study examining 50 million online browser sessions across 3,000 retail websites, during the third quarter (1 July – 30 September) of 2017 and the same period this year.

Martech company Ve, which develops eCommerce technologies for retailers such as Claire’s Accessories and The Body Shop, found that the growth in sales is followed by a further 6% increase in browsing via a smartphone. This places mobile as the dominant channel for browsing in the UK - registering more sessions (53%) than desktop PCs and tablets combined.

The analysis also revealed a significant reduction in mobile “bounce” rates – where users would often leave a website almost immediately after arriving – which are down 10% on 2017.

Ve CEO David Marrinan-Hayes, said:

“Ve’s data indicates that UK retailers are beginning to meet the mobile-first expectations of the modern online shopper and in good time, given the continued demise of the desktop PC and even the tablet – all of which are fading towards irrelevance as the mobile experience improves.”

“This bodes very well for brands in the run-up to Black Friday and the whole of the crucial ‘Golden Quarter’, as they look to capitalise on the annual pre-December rush. It also presents marketers with an opportunity to engage the always-on customer; a key demographic who carry and regularly check their mobile devices.”

“The main challenge for brands is to develop and deploy mobile experiences that are relevant and bring value to each potential customer. Done correctly, personalised messages and content delivered direct-to-mobile via SMS or Web Push Notifications, can be welcome interruptions and lead a customer into making a purchase.”

Ve is expecting a further uptick in mobile sales during the Black Friday weekend which is generally regarded as the start of the Christmas shopping season. Last year 36% of UK retail purchases over the Black Friday weekend occurred via a smartphone, up 12% on the Q3 average. An equivalent increase this year would put the mobile share of online sales at an unprecedented 52%.

In contrast to the popularity of mobile shopping, sales made via desktop PCs have dipped below 50% for the first time, with purchases on tablet devices slipping by 5% compared to last.

Marrinan-Hayes believes brands must build campaigns that interact with individuals in a uniquely personalised way if they hope to retain customers using those channels:

“By no means is the desktop or tablet experience dead in the eyes of consumers. However, greater efforts need to be made by UK retailers if they hope to capture the attention of consumers in a mobile- first environment.”

“This means investing in greater levels of personalisation and delivering onsite experiences that are contextually relevant to each user. At Ve, we’re working closely with a number of UK retailers to understand their users more and develop experiences that are tailored for them, from product discovery through to an eventual purchase, and beyond.”


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Posted by David Marrinan-Hayes

CEO of Ve Global