Research firm, Shoppercentric, anticipates shopper behaviour at Christmas


Danielle Pinnington, managing director at shopper research company, Shoppercentric, considers how squeezed household budgets will impact shopping, catering and gifting this Christmas

Pinnington: retailers need to actively sell Christmas

Pinnington: retailers need to actively sell Christmas

Christmas is the big celebration of the year, the chance to get together with family, and put worries aside for a day. No-one wants to feel they are scrimping as it’s really important it is a fun day, however shoppers are continuing to worry about jobs/salaries and the pressure on the household budgets is impacting:


  • Ever decreasing gifting circles – shoppers are focusing on the people that really matter
  • Instead of presents for friends, some shoppers are sharing an evening out or an evening in – experiences rather than random toiletries gift pack
  • Grandparents are taking themselves out of gifting circle – “don’t buy for us, we have everything, buy for the kids instead”
  • Focusing on presents that are wanted/needed (perhaps items that they’ve not been able to purchase during the year) – rather than random ideas that might not be appreciated
  • There’s less of a concern about giving money, not feeling that is lazy, because it might be appreciated more than ever
  • Keeping children’s expectations in check – quality not quantity, and there are limits


  • Shoppers aren’t aiming at a completely laden-down table of food, instead they are focusing on there being enough
  • Tendency to try and reduce wastage – some leftovers are always part of Christmas eg cold turkey sandwiches in the evening/next day, but not wanting to end up throwing loads away
  • Common sense – Christmas lunch is the reason for getting together, but it doesn’t mean having to go overboard
  • For 2012, the focus will be on the experience, not the material things – enjoying the family time, the meaning of Christmas, but without the need for bling

The renewed focus, plus the development of multi-channel retail has resulted in shopping behaviour changing:

  • More shoppers are going online, particularly in terms of finding the best price
  • More use of click & collect to avoid the hassle of having to wait in for deliveries, or having to “run the gauntlet of the sorting office” for missed parcels
  • More use of vouchers/making the most of loyalty deals
  • Keeping an eye out for sales/promotions – shoppers knowing the longer they wait the cheaper it is likely to be based on last year
  • On traditional purchases, prices from last year (including promoted prices) are being used as the benchmark when working out value this year

So, all in all, a tough year for retailers. Not only are shoppers aiming to cut back on the added extras, they are actively managing their budgets and looking to avoid waste/unwanted purchases. 

Retailers need to actively sell Christmas – which means creating the right ambience, presenting products in an appealing way, and putting together related products so that shoppers find ‘solutions’ to their needs easily. 

Tap into the Christmas spirit and shoppers will spend – on the flip side if you assume Christmas is a done deal, shoppers are going to keep their purse strings tight.