Even though summer is here, the volume of promotional emails sent by retailers is at an all time high. According to marketing software company Responsys, retailers sent an average of 16 emails in July. This is an increase of more than 18% year-over-year.

But what is driving the type of content they are sending out? A strange mix of Olympics and Christmas appear to be the big hitters last month. 

Unsurprisingly, the Olympics has been on everyone’s mind this month. As of August 6, more than 20% of online retailers referred the the Olympics. This seems quite low seeing that all eyes are on London but with the over diligent LOCOG looking to come down on anyone using “Olympics” that shouldn’t be as cases of copyright infringement, you can understand why. Retailers are trying to work their way around it by using related words such as “go for gold,” “podium,” “score,” and “world-class.”

“While a few retailers like Ralph Lauren and Foot Locker are promoting Team USA apparel and gear, others are forced to be creative to be topical and leverage the around-the-clock coverage of the Olympic Games,” said Chad White, Research Director at Responsys. 

A couple companies that stood out include Sephora who, in a July 28 email, drew a parallel between customer ratings and the score card rated judging at the Olympics.

The Gilt Groupe went for metal colors and promoted gold, silver and bronze home accents in their July 28 email.

Christmas come early?

During July, more than 13% of major online retailers, the most ever in the past 6 years, mentioned Christmas in their emails. White sees it as more than the gimmicky ‘Christmas in July’ messaging. 

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen not only more retailers promoting gift-shopping in July, but we’ve also seen more retailers promoting seasonal products like wreaths and ornaments and not just holding a generic sale on non-seasonal merchandise like TVs and kitchen appliances. These two trends indicate that customers are responding to early shopping offers.

As the National Retail Federation has shown that nearly 40% of shoppers started Christmas shopping before Halloween, maybe this pre-emptive messaging will give those retailers a leg up over the expected summer sales and Olympics push.

For those retailers reading this, what messaging gave you the biggest interaction in the past month?