Retailers’ social media and e-mail campaigns outshine searches in Q4

UK shoppers are now increasingly using social networks and e-mail marketing to access the website of their favourite retailers, suggest new data from the British Retail Consortium and Google.


In the fourth quarter of 2017, retail search volumes increased moderately by just 3% across all devices, compared with the same quarter a year ago. The data, highlighted by the BRC- Google Online Retail Monitor, reveals a slowdown in the use of search engines.

“It was the weakest quarter for growth last year, but that reflects the fact that shoppers are increasingly accessing retailers’ websites via social networks and e-mail marketing, rather than using search engines,” commented Helen Dickinson OBE, Chief Executive, British Retail Consortium.

“Indeed, over Black Friday, a number of retailers noted that their e-mail campaigns were particularly successful in attracting shoppers to their websites.” 

Search engines are still popular among consumers looking for specific products, with the monitor recording a flurry of Google activity over the autumn and winter months as consumers hunted for the perfect Halloween costume and novelty Christmas jumpers.

The report also found that Black Friday has overtaken Boxing Day on Google search volumes, possibly because consumers are now taking more time to research deals before the shopping day.

“Browsing for an online bargain will likely become common practice for the increasingly discerning shopper as the squeeze on disposable income persists,” said Dickinson.


British brand’s distinctive appeal is gaining momentum overseas, with international searches for UK brands up 19% in the fourth quarter compared to the previous year. Italy emerged as the EU country with the strongest growth in searches for UK brands during the period, up 30% compared to the fourth quarter of 2016.

Meanwhile in the UK, North & Yorkshire saw the highest share of UK retail searches, with 26%, followed by London with 23%.

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