Christmas countdown: retail ruptures before the storm

Christmas countdown: retail ruptures before the storm

This Christmas has added significance for every phone retailer following the collapse of Phones 4u and the subsequent purchase of some of its stores by a number of the key players. Here’s a look at what’s on the major mobile retailers’ Christmas list this year:

EE

It’s time for the UK largest network to show what it’s got from a retail perspective. With the addition of the Phones 4u stores and the launch of EE TV the operator really needs its retail arm to prove its worth. The network has been keen to push 4G as a key differentiator and it will be interesting to see how EE uses 4G during the festive season. Particularly as the emphasis at this time of year is normally on the newest, shiniest handsets.

Vodafone

The opening of Vodafone’s 500th store emphasised how far the network’s retail portfolio now stretches. The purchase of the 130 Phones 4u stores allowed the operator to meet its retail target for new outlets with a quick turnaround before the run-in began. The pressure is on for the network to show that these decisions have been taken wisely; an impressive Christmas showing would certainly do so.

O2

O2 has been trying to grow its business and public sector customers recently but its strong retail arm is surely gearing up for another big consumer festive push. O2 ‘Refresh’ is one offer that can be leveraged well around this time of year and with it being an iPhone 6 Christmas, the network must be hoping that there are a number of ‘Refresh’ upgrades to be taken advantage of. As the operator didn’t purchase a large number of Phones 4u stores or launch any new services it will be very much a case of relying on the tried and tested to deliver a strong Christmas performance

Three

If the departure of Martin Roberts was surprising, then Jacqueline Kelleher leaving Three was a complete shock. Conducting a restructure at this stage in the calendar and having a massively popular director of retail depart is a very bold move. It seems strange to risk morale among store staff just before a critical time of the year, and it will be interesting to see just what the affect JK’s departure has. That aside, like O2 Three doesn’t have many new stores or new services, so it too will be relying on its existing sales apparatus to deliver.    

Dixons Carphone

Quite simply the time is now for Dixons Carphone. If it’s serious about its converged offering, a strong Christmas showing is essential. It was always going to be a hugely important Christmas for the retailer following the merger, but with Phones 4u gone there are now even higher expectations from the only independent mobile retailer left standing on the high street. Its number of outlets has also increased and there’ll be an expectation from management that this should be reflected in sales. Another interesting area to watch is whether it benefits from the knowledge of a number of former Phones 4u bigwigs brought on board following the brand’s collapse.

Key dates

Friday 28 November (Black Friday)

An American import, Black Friday marks the last Friday before Thanksgiving. The date has been gathering momentum in the UK; this year expect the biggest push from mobile retailers yet.

Friday 26 December (Boxing Day)

The first shopping day after Christmas. Mobile retailers will be hoping for hordes of eager customers looking to buy discounted accessories for all the tech they got on the big day.

Thursday 1 January (New Year’s Day)

As retailers adjust tariff prices on a monthly basis, all the post-Christmas contract bargains will kick off on New Year’s Day. The fact that it lands on a Thursday, which gives customers the whole weekend to hit the shops, can only be of benefit to mobile retailers.

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