New data has shown that the UK started preparing for Christmas significantly earlier than usual this year. People began researching their Christmas purchases online as early as mid-July, a good five to six weeks ahead of the traditional uptick in seasonal interest identified in previous years.
During the period 31 July to 21 October 2021, online searches for ‘Christmas turkey’ almost doubled (up 88%) compared to the same period in 2020, a signal both of earlier and increased interest, triggered by headlines warning of severe shortages. Searches for ‘frozen turkey crown’ jumped 294% while ‘vegetarian Christmas dinner’ was up 210% and ‘vegan Christmas dinner’ up by 150%.
And as for what people do with those birds, searches for ‘turkey cook time’ went up a colossal 2,300% compared to the same period last year.
Clothing was another area that has seen a huge jump in online interest over the same period, as people get ready for a Christmas they may once again spend with friends and family. Searches for ‘Christmas dresses for women’ jumped a massive 628% compared to 2020, while ‘Christmas jumpers’ was up by 69%.
It also found that searches during 31 July-21 Oct for ‘Christmas cards’ were up 14% (with ‘Dogs Trust Christmas cards’ up a colossal 968%) and ‘Christmas decorations’ searches rose by a quarter (27%). Searches for ‘Christmas trees’ were up 10% and ‘outdoor Christmas lights’ went up by 37%.
The nation’s love affair with man’s best friend shows no sign of abating with searches for ‘dog Christmas gift’ up 196% and ‘Christmas dog toys’ up a massive 275%.
Meanwhile, searches for ‘advent calendars’ were up by 17% – while specific searches for ‘Hotel Chocolat advent calendar’ more than tripled (up 214%), signalling the rise in popularity of food-related advent calendars and chocolate in particular.
An increasingly seasonal popular fixture is the Christmas Market and after the disappointment of seeing many of them cancelled last year, searches are up across the board. Leading the pack was ‘Bath Christmas market’, up 290% on last year and with more search results than any other named market. Vienna came next, following by Prague, London, Edinburgh and York in the online popularity stakes.
Louis Venter, CEO at MediaVision, comments: “Our analysis of the numbers shows that the UK started thinking about Christmas this year a lot earlier than in 2020 and with more intent, both of which drove online search volumes. There’s no doubt this has been driven in part by the news stories about HGV driver shortages and emptying supermarket shelves.
“Unlike 2020, when Christmas was cancelled for many families, this year is a chance to once again go out and visit friends and family. It looks like a lot of the country is leaving nothing to chance and started its Christmas preparations and shopping earlier than ever and with greater enthusiasm.”
With people once again able to go out and socialise in the run-up to Christmas, the data also showed that many are keen to plan their Christmas parties earlier than ever – ‘Office Christmas Party’ searches were not surprisingly up 275% compared to the same period in 2020, ‘Secret Santa’ was up by 126% and searches for ‘Christmas party food’ jumped by up 147%.