Over a third of shoppers leave Christmas buying to last minute, research reveals

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Nearly 17.2m people have left their Christmas shopping until the last minute and will be hitting the shops on Christmas Eve, according to new research from Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Cards.

The findings indicate 36.3% of adults expect to still be doing some of their Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve. Those people who know how much they will spend anticipate spending around £1.3bn between them on last minute purchases, equivalent to almost £55m per hour, said researchers. An additional 2.3m people (6%) don’t know what they will spend, so the total spend could be much higher. 

Year-on-year, last minute Christmas shopping is set to increase from £1 billion to £1.3bn on Christmas Eve, according to the Sainsbury’s Bank Credit Cards study. In addition, shoppers expect to spend £9.85bn in the week before Christmas this year, a 4.8% increase on the £9.4bn expected spend in the week leading up to Christmas 2011.

In the run up to Christmas this year, millions of people say they are trying to reduce their Christmas spending through a variety of measures, said researchers. Nearly four in 10 people (39%) are using vouchers or coupons to buy food and gifts, and over one in four (26%) are collecting points on all of their Christmas shopping. Some 26% will purchase gifts using points they have collected from a loyalty or reward scheme, and a further 23% will buy Christmas food or drink using points they have amassed, the survey found.

Stuart McKeggie, head of Sainsbury’s Credit Cards, said: “Our research indicates Christmas Eve shopping continues to be as popular as ever, with millions of people still looking to pick up the perfect gifts right up until the last minute. Our research also suggests that more money will be spent on Christmas Eve in comparison to last year.

“For those shoppers who buy regularly from retailers that offer a loyalty scheme, or have a credit card that offers cashback or reward points, it could be worthwhile taking advantage of this while doing the Christmas shop and redeeming the rewards at a later date. For example, the Sainsbury’s Nectar Credit Card offers up to five times the number of points usually earned in-store at Sainsbury’s for the first three months – this is equivalent to up to 5% back on your Sainsbury’s shopping.”

Sainsbury’s said all its supermarkets will open an hour earlier than usual this Sunday to allow time for customers to browse, and 35 supermarkets will open at midnight on Christmas Eve, and trade until 6pm.

One in 12 people (8%) are getting creative and making personalised or hand-made gifts, and 13% intend to buy Christmas gifts in the post-Christmas sales to save money, researchers found. Interestingly, men are almost three times more likely not to budget for Christmas spending (16% compared with 6% of women).

The supermarket bank’s research also indicates around 36.1% of last-minute spending conducted in the week before Christmas would be placed on credit cards, an increase since 2011, when this figure was 31%. on purchases made at Sainsbury’s for the first three months (up to a maximum of £1,000 spend per month) plus cardholders could also receive £5 cashback each month when they spend at least £250 at Sainsbury’s and £250 elsewhere. Post-introductory period, the ongoing reward for cardholders is £5 cashback each month when they spend at least £250 at Sainsbury’s and at least £250 at other outlets.