Retailers face difficult festive period as families rein in Christmas spending due to Covid, Brightpearl finds

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Terrible Christmases have been few and far between for the nation’s shopkeepers, but retailers are now bracing themselves for the worst festive season since 1981 after Brits report financial woes from being hit so hard in the pocket by Covid. A quarter of shoppers have seen their income hit since Covid, according to a new Brightpearl survey of 2,000 consumers. 

A typical household in the UK spends an average £800 in December celebrating Christmas, the Bank of England estimates. 

Brightpearl’s survey however reveals that Britons are now expected to tighten the purse strings this Christmas with 63% of consumers admitting they need to be ‘very careful’ with their money and 40% cutting down on any ‘frivolous’ spending.

Almost one in 10 (8%) Brits now live in a household where at least one person has lost their job; a warning sign for retailers that this year’s Christmas spirit may be dampened. 

The survey from Brightpearl, which provides digital operations solutions for some of the world’s biggest retail brands, also indicated some huge shifts in how Brits plan to approach festive shopping – which are likely to provide opportunities to online brands and smaller players. 

Some 43% of consumers are now buying things online more than normal, as shoppers continue to avoid crowded shops and order more online.

“Retailers should be anticipating more sales online than ever before during this festive period”, said Brightpearl CEO Derek O’Carroll. “Brands with an established online presence, and with slick automated platforms that can manage demand and get items out the door really quickly are going to thrive.” 

One of the main shifts in spending habits since Covid has been the switch to more local shopping and a move away from chains. 

Established brands may cede further territory to smaller players over the Christmas season after 60% of consumers indicated a willingness to rediscover independent businesses and nearly two-thirds of consumers (63%) saying they will be shopping more locally over the holiday period.

“There’s positives in this data, and firms can benefit, even if we spend much of the holidays at home”, added Brightpearl’s Derek O’Carroll. “With customers’ preference to shop from local businesses during the festive period, an increasing number will almost certainly want the option to pick up all their online shopping from a local collection point. Retailers should consider adding local Click & Collect points to their delivery offering to capitalise on this trend.” 

Brightpearl has released a new report on the habits, categories and spending of shoppers over the next twelve months. It can be found here.

Bristol-based Brightpearl works with thousands of retailers introducing software that puts orders, inventory, financials, POS (point of sale) and CRM (customer relationship management) in one place.