How coming out of lockdown will affect Christmas shopping behaviour

How coming out of lockdown will affect Christmas shopping behaviour

With only a month left until Christmas day and the UK still in lockdown, this year’s Christmas shopping will be unlike any other.

As the festive period is, for many businesses, the biggest time of the year. We know how important it is to understand how shoppers are feeling as we get closer to the big day. Throughout the year, we at Spark Emotions focus in on different topics by month depending on what is important to the general public.

In our December report, we have been looking at how shoppers will be behaving around Christmas including: How will they be shopping? Who are they buying for? And how much will they be buying to name a few.

Furlough has driven people to plan ahead for Christmas

Many UK adults have started their Christmas celebrations early by putting up their decorations weeks in advance of December.  In our November Mood of the Nation report, we saw that as many as half of parents had already started buying for Christmas back in November. Months on furlough has given many people time to plan ahead and think about how they will decorate their homes this Christmas bringing the festive spirit in especially early this year.

It’s no surprise that people are starting early this year as lockdown in England lifts just weeks before Christmas day, leaving shoppers with hardly any time to buy presents in stores. As people wish to avoid crowds, queues, and Coronavirus, many have turned to the internet for their Christmas shopping needs. Unlike any previous year, this holiday season (the 6 weeks leading up to Christmas), online sales of gifts will almost reach the value of in-store sales in the UK (Statista) demonstrating how shoppers are adapting to the pandemic.

Some retailers have tried to take advantage of the early planning online

Both John Lewis and Marks and Spencer have reported early Christmas searches online suggesting that many are starting their shopping early this year (Retail Gazette). John Lewis was one of the first retailers to open its Christmas shop and festive searches almost quadrupled compared with last year. Although almost half of those we asked in our December Mood of the Nation report were planning on splitting their shopping between online and instore, 58% were planning on doing their online Christmas shopping on Amazon, showing that the retail giant is still dominating online sales.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said that back in October, early Christmas shopping and discounting by stores helped to lift retail sales by 1.2%. Many retailers have reported a boost in sales of Christmas key essentials such as trees, decorations, mince pies and turkeys (BBC). After the announcement of the winter lockdown for November, many rushed to the shops in an attempt to get their Christmas shopping done before the lockdown. Shops are still preparing for a rush in December as shoppers will be under pressure to get what they need from traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. 44% of adults in our sample preferred a combination of online and instore for their Christmas shopping.

The demand for Christmas groceries online has grown

According to a YouGov survey for The Grocer, 39% of UK shoppers are planning to buy their Christmas groceries online this year, and this figure could be even higher as the survey was conducted before the announcement of the winter lockdown. Sainsbury’s has already revealed that it has partnered with both Uber Eats and Deliveroo in preparation to expand its delivery service in time for Christmas (The Grocer). Interestingly, our research found that 18-24-year-olds are the most likely to spend more this year on food and drink compared to previous years. As our survey found 72% of adults will be spending Christmas at home this year, plenty of food and drink can be considered a priority.

At Spark Emotions, we are able to understand your customers’ behaviour at the very top of the purchase funnel through our trends and foresight business unit. Understanding the macro effects that impact your customers’ behaviour helps your business to identify opportunities and make improvements to better suit your customers’ needs. Our team of industry leaders and consumer psychologists partner with you to provide actionable insights proven to deliver business growth.

Get in touch by filling in our contact form to find out how we can help you grow your business.

Written by Tara Moran, Research Executive at Spark Emotions.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Tara via email or connect with her on LinkedIn