Mastercard SpendingPulse: shoppers demand discounts like never before in ‘thrifty Christmas’ spending period


Mastercard research reveals that Christmas 2018 could be our thriftiest ever as two thirds (66%*) of shoppers will only complete a purchase if discounted or part of a deal.

Overall holiday season retail spending in the UK is expected to be up 3.8% YoY, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse – welcome news for retailers:

  • Yet again, online shopping will see the strongest sales growth, up 11.1% YoY
  • There is good news for the high street as spend on groceries is predicted to see the next greatest uplift, increasing from 0.2% to 3.0% YoY
  • Electronics, a Black Friday bargain favourite, will continue to retain the top spot for Christmas gifting, despite a drop in sales growth of electronics by 1.2%
  • Following a flat 2017, furniture is expected to see a recovery up 2.8% YoY as thrifty shoppers hunt an investment purchase

This year, the average amount to be splashed on Christmas presents is expected to be £336.34 per bargain hunter, a Mastercard study found.

As we approach the busiest shopping weekend of the year, Mastercard data has uncovered that one in five (19%*) of us has tightened our purse strings until Black Friday bargains are released. This shouldn’t be an issue for the majority of Brits (69%*) who are happy to receive a discounted gift.

One quarter (26%*) of Brits agree they are proud to shout about a saving whereas they would have been ashamed ten years ago. One in five (19%*) even went as far as comparing the thrill of finding a bargain to getting a pay rise at work.

Janne Karppinen, vice president of retail for UK & Ireland at Mastercard, said: “Buying behaviour is shifting dramatically as shoppers’ expectations for discounts increase.  Two thirds of shoppers won’t buy a product if it isn’t discounted. Coupled with the fact that spending slows in the run up to mid-November, we can see that discounts are no longer seen as a ‘nice to have,’ they are demanded.”

Dr David Lewis chartered psychologist said: “There are three main reasons why so many consumers now rate bargains more than brand names:

In an age of austerity, there is more social kudos to describing what a great deal you have done than what something costs. Second, with more and more consumers regarding themselves at “war” with retailers, especially the very big retailers, getting a good deal is seen as representing a win. Finally, while spotting and grabbing a bargain brings about positive mental and physical changes in shoppers; studies have shown that finding a bargain floods the brain with a chemical known as dopamine which produces a sense of euphoria.”