Brits plan to buck retail sales gloom and spend big this festive season, Accenture survey reveals

Accenture’s 2019 Festive UK Shopping Survey reveals that despite gloomy retail sales predictions, most UK shoppers (87%) set to spend the same or more than last year this festive season. More than half of Brits (57%) believe that political uncertainty will have no impact on their festive spending whatsoever.

Younger shoppers are driving this trend, with 45% of younger millennials and 38% of Gen Z looking to spend more. Among those that plan to increase spending, most money will be going towards festive dining, children’s toys and clothing.

The online world’s dedicated shopping day – Cyber Monday – is the least important shopping period for Brits, with only 37% saying they prefer to shop on Cyber Monday, compared to 47% in the last weekend before Christmas.

Additionally, the retail sector may see the boost from spending in the new year, with nearly half of shoppers planning to leave most of their shopping to the last weekend before Christmas, followed by 42% preferring to leave it to post-Christmas and Boxing Day.

The top factors that could negatively impact spending this year are:

  • Rising food bills
  • Inconvenient shopping experience online
  • Home energy bills

Andrew Carlisle, Retail Consulting Lead, Accenture UK&I, says: “There’s no doubt that it’s been an incredibly difficult year for retailers. There have already been more job losses and more store closures than 2018 – with the year not even being up yet. But the high street gloom doesn’t seem to have dampened shoppers’ spirits this festive season, buoyed by younger consumers planning to spend big over the holidays. What’s more is that spending for UK shoppers isn’t centered on a particular day, suggesting that the retailers that can sustain consumer interest beyond the key moments of Cyber Monday and Black Friday are set to benefit the most.” 

Environmental concerns set to boost the pre-loved market this festive season

Environmental concerns are driving wider acceptance of pre-loved items with more than half of shoppers (53%) welcoming second-hand gifts and over a third (38%) considering renting clothing instead of buying.

Gift giving overall is showing marks of going off-trend, with 35% planning to spend less or nothing at all on gifts or opting to give to charity instead.

More than a quarter (28%) are hoping to give homemade gifts and 1 in 5 (18%) even have a no gift policy with family and friends. 13% won’t bother present wrapping due to environmental concerns.

With gift-giving falling out of fashion, people are opting to spend big on food and festive dining instead, with 84% planning to spend the same or more compared to last year.

At the same time, most Brits now accept that there’s a premium on environmentally sustainable products, with 7 in 10 willing to pay on average a 17% premium for a product that is more environmentally sustainable.

Lynda Petherick, retail lead for Accenture UK, says: “While the last few weeks have been more cause for concern than holiday cheer among retailers, there are still some bright spots in the industry. Environmental concerns are set to drive the most significant shifts in shopping behaviour this Christmas, making re-gifting and second-hand gifts more popular and environmental premiums more acceptable. While some retailers have started to introduce recycling schemes and product lines with higher sustainability credentials, they are still in the minority, presenting a huge opportunity for agile retailers to tap into a growing customer segment.”