A fifth of UK shoppers leaving Christmas shopping to last couple of weeks

Savvy today revealed its annual research looking at Christmas spending plans for UK shoppers. The survey (of 1,000 household shopping decision makers) indicates that nearly 20 percent of shoppers have yet to think about or start their Christmas shopping. Despite that, 36 percent of shoppers do plan to spend more this year (than 2014).

We may have seen some steady improvements in consumer confidence this past year, however we continue to see shoppers exhibit savvy shopping behaviours. During November we read reports of a dip in retail spending in the run up to Black Friday – and now our research suggests many shoppers plan a last minute rush for presents, holding off for anticipated pre-Christmas discounting.

Based on our observations in-store during the past week, this year retailers seem to be keeping a keen eye on margin as well as driving sales, with the levels of pre-Christmas discounting, so far at least, appearing to be lower than in recent years.

With less than two weeks to go to Christmas, retailers still have a lot to play for. They will be gearing up for a massive online surge as delivery deadlines loom. On the high street, convenience, customer experience, and of course great product, will determine the winners and losers.

Key research findings:

Spending plans?

  • Still thinking about it:
    • 19 percent of UK shoppers won’t start to think about what gifts to buy until two to three weeks before Christmas
  • 2015 Vs 2014 budgets:
    • 36 percent of UK shoppers expect to spend more this Christmas than they did last year
  • Making purchases:
    • Nearly half (48 percent) of shoppers buy Christmas gifts throughout the year when they see something suitable
    • 27 percent buy gifts on Black Friday, 18 percent in the spring sales and 25 percent in the summer sales
    • 20 percent start to stock up on Boxing day sales for the year ahead
    • Mad Friday (last Friday before Christmas) sees 17 percent of shoppers making purchases
    • Interestingly 11 percent of shoppers wait until after Christmas for the Boxing day sales to buy discounted gifts
    • Ten percent also leave it until Christmas Eve to make purchases

Spending more or less?

  • Food – 76 percent of shoppers said they would be spending the same as last year on food for Christmas day. 10 percent said they would spend more and 14 percent said less. Similar figures were seen for treats and snacks to eat during the festive period (76, nine and 15 percent respectively).
  • Drinks – 72 percent of shoppers will be buying the same amount as in 2014 but nine percent will buy more and 19 percent will buy less.
  • Presents – 71 percent agreed they would be spending the same as last year, but 15 percent said they would be spending more and 14 percent said less.
  • Going out to pubs, bars and restaurants – Interestingly 31 percent of shoppers said they would go out less than last year. 62 percent said it would be the same amount as last year and six percent said they’d be going out more than in 2014.

Attitudes towards Christmas:

  • Being thrifty – a huge 80 percent of shoppers said they are looking for ways to make Christmas special without breaking the bank this year
  • Savvy shopping – 71 percent of shoppers said they plan to shop around for their main Christmas food shopping to help save money
  • Going online – 52 percent said they would be shopping more online this year

Expectations of retailers:

  • Top of the shopper’s wish list is a loyalty scheme which gives them money off their big Christmas food shop (51 percent)
  • 50 percent would like to see great deals on meat products, 40 percent want premium products at great prices and 39 percent will be after great deals on alcohol
  • To help with time pressures, 42 percent want everything they need for Christmas under one roof
  • Competitions to get the chance to win a prize such as their Christmas food shopping were attractive to 34 percent of shoppers.
  • Shoppers were also keen for retailers to give them ideas and inspiration to try new things (29 percent). A Christmas shop within a supermarket for example was attractive to 25 percent of shoppers.
  • A specific day when shoppers can get great Christmas present, food and drink bargains was of interest to 22 percent.