With UK inflation at record levels of 10.1%, shoppers will spend 6.8% less on gifts over Christmas this year. That’s according to the latest Shopping for Christmas Report, by Voucher Codes. However, the festive period is still a vital one in the retail calendar, and despite the obvious challenges, there are still opportunities.
Household shopping budgets are in decline as the cost of living crisis bites. With customers more conscious of their spending, retailers are tasked with offering more value. Here, we uncover the key Christmas shopping trends to help online retailers respond to customer needs.
1. Shoppers will start early
Consumers will begin shopping early this year to spread the cost of Christmas. With less discretionary spending power, and a desire to stick to reduced budgets, shoppers are looking for early value.
With many retailers carrying excessive stock after miscalculating demand at the end of the pandemic, prices are being slashed to motivate sales. To compete for key sales, offering early discounts and deals on popular and essential items, will give buyers an extra value incentive.
2. Essential Christmas gifts a priority
As consumers face economic challenges, sales of all but the most essential items will be impacted by collective belt tightening.
With a forecast slump of 15.9%, consumer electronics look to be worst affected, followed by clothing and footwear (-12%), jewellery (-11.1%) and books and entertainment (-6.8%). On a brighter note, positive growth is anticipated for toys (1%), and alcohol and confectionery (6%). Many will limit their gifting to essential others, with 90% saying they will focus on immediate family.
3. A potential World Cup bounce?
With the World Cup taking place over peak season, what impact will it have on retailers as we approach Christmas? An IPA Survey reveals that 38% of adults believe the football showcase will dominate the build up to Christmas. The same percentage consider the timing inconvenient. 36% of Londoners believe the World Cup will inspire their Christmas gift buying.
4. Increase in mobile commerce
For the first time, the largest share (51.1%) of all Christmas shopping will be online, with offline capturing 48.9%. Although they will spend less, the number of shoppers using mobile devices to make purchases will increase. Despite greater numbers returning to physical stores, spending across all devices will exceed pre-pandemic levels. Smartphones sales make up the majority of purchases, decreasing from £12.16bn to £11.6bn, but showing resilience in the face of overall spend reductions.
5. In-app social media buying
By allowing retailers to tailor offers using an avalanche of behavioural data, social media platforms account for a growing share of retail revenues over festive season. In fact, Shopify research finds that 49% of brands surveyed plan to invest more in social commerce.
Retailers will look to interactive, personalised experiences to help Gen Z and millennial buyers reimagine Christmas shopping this year. Elevated in-app customer service, livestream selling, video consultations, and personalised recommendations are social-first strategies known to convert more buyers.
6. Affordable luxury
The pursuit of luxury at affordable prices has the potential to boost eCommerce revenues. The lipstick effect – increasing sales of affordable luxuries in a downturn – is driven by consumers’ desire to add a little extra joy to their lives. Despite severe economic headwinds, ‘small luxury’ mood boosters will do well. This includes cosmetics, at-home treatments, skincare, and even coffee and high-end chocolate.
7. Sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives
While Brits will spend less this Christmas, they are still keen to make choices that benefit the environment. An IPA survey reveals that 40% of UK shoppers plan to be more sustainable over Christmas, with 11% set to give a zero-waste gift. Expect to see a growth in demand for biodegradable and plastic-free products. LED lights, ethically made toys, recycled Christmas cards, sustainable wrapping paper, and sustainably sourced gifts, will prove popular.
8. Delivery experience a decisive factor
Offering flexible delivery over Christmas this year will be crucial. Price sensitive buyers will look for less expensive delivery options, but will also be extra mindful of gifts arriving on time. Royal Mail strikes in the run up to Christmas will inevitably mean disruption to holiday deliveries. They will also add to the already heightened delivery anxiety experienced by customers at this time. It makes sense to plan your Christmas delivery strategy early to avoid disappointment.
We know that the majority of UK shoppers prefer when retailers offer a variety of delivery options and speeds. Offering multiple options, like same-day, overnight, 2-day, click and collect, timed delivery slots, and express delivery, will do more to inspire confidence.
It’s an awful feeling, not being in control, especially in delivery management. Lack of control could prevent you from standing over your delivery promise this festive season. Take control of your delivery management and take your business to the next level today.