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A late summer heatwave may have enveloped the UK, but the bank holiday this weekend is the start of the Christmas shopping season, according to eBay's advertising insights.

Last year almost half a million searches for “Christmas” counted on ebay.co.uk in August 2015 - up 70 percent on the month before - and searches for “Christmas tree” rising by a staggering 300 percent in the month, compared to July 2015.

This year eBay Advertising launched its 2016 Christmas tracker, designed to help brands better target their campaigns, by identifying the peak shopping periods in the run up to 25th December and beyond.

The perfect Christmas outfit is the number one search

According to eBay, finding the perfect Christmas party outfit is often the first thing on Britain’s Christmas shopping list, with the Clothes, Shoes and Accessories category seeing searches for ‘Christmas’ shoot up in the third week of August last year, and accelerated by early October, giving the category the earliest and longest period of sustained interest. It also highlights the need for fashion brands to begin their Christmas ad campaigns early and continue to engage with customers throughout the festive period.

Searches for Christmas-related items tend to increase steadily from August onwards, but eBay Advertising’s insights reveal that there are certain calendar hooks that spike interest – for example, searches for “Christmas” on ebay.co.uk soared by 74 percent in the week that followed Bonfire Night last year, compared to the week before.

Shopping continues up until Christmas day

Despite consumers starting early, Christmas shopping continues right up to the day itself, with over 300,000 searches made for “Christmas” on ebay.co.uk in the final week of the countdown last year, showing that brands need to ring fence and defer some budget to see them to the very end of the season.

Rob Bassett, Advertising Director at eBay in the UK believes there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to planning a Christmas campaign. “Brands with products in multiple categories should consider weighting their advertising spend differently, to capture shoppers at every stage of their Christmas preparations. A degree of flexibility is needed as well, to accommodate those opportunistic moments that create short but lucrative windows for driving sales. This can be anything from the weather to the latest craze that can really influence the way that shoppers are thinking.”