Insight: How can merchants capitalise on the expected Coronation spending surge?

Martin Mitchell,
26 Apr 2023

The arrival of Spring and the King’s coronation on 6 May – with a bumper bank holiday weekend to celebrate – will ensure a big jump in takings for bars, pubs and dining venues up and down the UK.

Plans are in place to set up big screens at more than 30 UK locations to show the Coronation, as announced by Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer in March, with local authorities staging mini music festivals and community get-togethers, enabling people to come together and celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event.

With the UK government’s confirmation that rules about al fresco dining and eating will be relaxed permanently, and the temporary extension of licensing hours for the Coronation weekend, it’s great news for venue owners across drinking, dining and live entertainment sectors, who will now be busy refreshing their indoor and outdoor spaces to welcome visitors.

But, it’s not just business owners – homeowners are set to spend on Springtime overhauls as well.

How will merchant sales benefit from the Coronation effect?

Springtime typically sees rising sales for home and garden equipment and furniture, and DIY-related purchases. This year, the Coronation of King Charles III is a rare opportunity for hospitality venues to increase merchandise, food and drink revenues – and will likely see merchants in other sectors receive a big boost in spending.

For those who want to watch the Coronation in the comfort of their own home, they’ll be heading in-store and online to furniture, gardening and DIY merchants – indoor and outdoor seating, canopies, patio heaters, and even outdoor bars, will be on shopping lists across the UK.

After the economic turbulence of 2022 and the cost-of-living crisis hitting household budgets, there’s no denying that it’s been a challenging start to the year for many merchants, and consumer discretionary spending has taken a big hit over the past 12 months.

But, historically, royal events are recognised as giving economic lifts to the hospitality and tourism industries, and this year’s Coronation is predicted to generate around £1 billion for the economy, as estimated by consultancy firm Brand Finance.

While the UK’s shoppers are still being cautious, initial signs of a Springtime resumption of spending are promising, which is welcome news for merchants still facing cost pressures as they try to keep prices affordable for customers.

The British Retail Consortium is predicting that retail sales will rise between 1% and 2.3% in the first six months of 2023, with the second half of 2023 seeing growth rates of between 3.6% to 4.7%.

Amid these conditions, it’s more important than ever for merchants to strive to attract and retain customers, improve access to affordable ways to pay, and increase average basket sizes.

How POS finance can increase checkout conversions and the customer experience

Reflecting changing consumer payment behaviour, interest-free credit is now one of the world’s fastest-growing payment methods, across all income groups and demographics. And it’s a trend that merchants can leverage through integrated POS finance platforms that can better service their customers.

In the few moments between a customer reaching the checkout stage and deciding to complete a transaction, what will increase the likelihood of a sale is the merchant offering alternative ways to pay, who can offer flexible and transparent terms that make large-value purchases more affordable – and with no hidden fees or penalties.

According to a survey of US shoppers by J.D. Power, what they experience at the checkout will influence them to try out interest-free credit. The total percentage of consumers with an active POS finance account increased to 22% in January 2023, from 18% in October 2021, and 29% of customers said they first became interested in interest-free credit as it was an easy-to-use option at the checkout.

These findings align with DivideBuy’s own proprietary consumer research, showing that UK consumers are more likely to consider POS finance to spread the cost of purchases due to concerns over inflation and the cost of living.

DivideBuy’s survey also revealed that 38% of people are now more likely to consider interest-free credit options in the next 12 months, second only to credit cards.

Integrated POS finance platforms ease onboarding and sales opportunities

As they prepare for Springtime and the Coronation, there are concrete steps merchants can take to increase visibility, attract new customers and ensure a consistent pipeline of sales.

Occasions like these also allow merchants to get creative with promotions and incentives, and invite customers to celebrate with them. By doing so, they can improve brand visibility, and generate more in-store and online traffic.

One-off events can also open up new cross-selling and up-selling opportunities, using data analytics to drill into customers’ previous buying and browsing behaviour. Merchants need to pay close attention to what their shoppers are looking at, and tailor recommendations and incentives accordingly, by item and buying channel.

What will really increase a merchant’s chance of success is by making smart business decisions underpinned by responsible lending practices. This requires the right technology to assess consumer affordability, grant quick credit approvals at the checkout, and give shoppers a smooth buying journey.

Whether they’re selling B2B or B2C, merchants should have an omni-channel POS finance solution in place that combines flexibility, data analytics, and transparent and tailored credit agreements, enabling them to serve all buying groups effectively.

With an integrated POS finance solution slipped easily into their existing checkouts, merchants can onboard more customers in faster times, tap into and meet their expectations, boost sales and average basket sizes, and offer the seamless experience that shoppers have come to expect as standard.

Martin Mitchell is chief technology officer at DivideBuy