W H Smith has fired the starting pistol for festive promotions, with Waterstone’s, Amazon.co.uk, Blackwell, John Smith and Foyles following hot on their heels as 1st November saw the switch-on of the Oxford Street Christmas lights.
WHS was first to begin its Christmas promotions last Thursday (27th October), before girl band The Saturdays pushed the button to switch on the Christmas lights on London’s main shopping stretch on Tuesday (1st November). WHS offered customers up to 75% off its bestsellers for 10 days.
Other offers from the high street retailer included buy-one-get-one-half-price on its fiction paperback chart, audiobooks and travel guides. It also offered selected hardbacks—such as Wonders of the Solar System by Professor Brian Cox and Andrew Cohen (Collins) and Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen (Quadrille Publishing)—in a two-for-£10 offer.
The WHS in Oxford Street Plaza was decorated in red and purple Christmas point-of-sale signs, and multicoloured decorations hung from the ceiling. Toby Keir, head of non-fiction and digital books at WHS, said: “Like last year, we have a significant amount of TV and press over the Christmas campaign, which has already started. This focuses on the key Christmas hardbacks, and has also been increased this year to include our new Kobo e-readers and e-books offer.”
Waterstone’s launched its Christmas campaign instore yesterday (3rd November), with it to be “amplified” over coming weeks. One focus will be its recently introduced stamp card with customers receiving a stamp for every £10 spent and a £10 money-off voucher when they get 10 stamps. The campaign will be in addition to the existing points-based loyalty card. Stores will continue to tailor their front of store offers, with money off selected titles. A spokesperson said: “We’re looking to give loads of great value in the shops.”
Amazon launched its Christmas Store, offering discounted products, on Monday (31st October), and revealed the hardback of Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson (Little, Brown) was third on customers’ most-wanted lists across all categories.
Top of the pile was the Kindle, and its ninth most popular product was Great British Bake Off: How to Bake: The Perfect Victoria Sponge and Other Baking Secrets (BBC Books). Amazon predicted that the most orders made to Amazon.co.uk would come on 5th December at 9 p.m.
Blackwell launched its Christmas promotion on Wednesday (2nd November), allowing individual branches the autonomy to create their own festive displays and decide on which books to give deeper discounts to. From 1st December it will host an online advent calendar, showcasing a different book for sale at a discounted rate each day. The books are selected by the staff at the chain’s Oxford branch.
Euan Hirst, sales manager at the Oxford Blackwell shop, said: “This Christmas will also be the most local offer we have ever had, and our message will be about beautiful books, subliminally saying to people: ‘Books are beautiful artefacts in themselves and there is a great value in them.’” John Smith is offering 25% off selected Christmas titles online but sales discounts in-store will happen nearer December.