It’s that time of year again and with 45% of people stating they will do most of their Christmas shopping online, postal and carrier companies are going to have a bigger job than ever keeping up the pace to deliver gifts on time.
But, across Europe, gift giving is far from identical and not just about the 25th December. Lots of the countries have their own traditions where presents are exchanged on different days. If you are a retailer selling across Europe it’s essential to know your markets so that you can make sure you are targeting them with relevant Christmas deals and delivery dates at the right time.
For example, if you sell to The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and Northern France, you have already missed a key date. Across these regions, SinterKlass (St Nicholas’ Day) is the most popular day for exchanging presents. This is the celebration of St. Nicholas and focuses on his reputation as a bringer of gifts. In The Netherlands, gifts are opened on SinterKlass eve (5th December) and in Belgium, Luxembourg and Northern France the presents are opened on the 6th December.
There is still time for retailers to meet the needs of other European consumers, however, as Father Christmas returns on the 24th December to the rest of France, Finland, Austria and Germany. Here, Christmas Eve is the main day for swapping presents and eating the big family meal. The Czech Republic and Slovakia also exchange presents on the 24th December for what is known as Štědrý den which translates as “Generous Day”.
And there is still one more Christmas-related mailing opportunity beyond the 25th. In Italy and Spain, gifts are commonly accepted on the 25th December but the official Christmas celebrations take place over a two-week period from the 24th December – 6th January, corresponding to the story of the arrival of the three wise men. For this reason, 6th January is also a big gift giving occasion in Italy, Spain and for many Catholics in Europe.
When you add other festivals to the list such as Hanukah, New Year’s Day, the Islamic Prophet’s Day on January 6th, it quickly becomes apparent how much pressure retailers and carriers are under during the festive period. In order for UK retailers to maximize business across Europe as a whole, it is crucial to be hitting those delivery deadlines throughout the period – not just for December 25!
By Stuart Rivett, managing director of B2C Europe