Turkey for one: smaller celebrations and a cheaper Christmas, shows new shopper data from dunnhumby


dunnhumby, the global leader in customer data science, has today released the results of its fifth Consumer Pulse Survey, which explores the impact of the pandemic on the retail sector over the festive period.

The study of over 8,400 consumers in 21 countries looks at shopper concerns and shopping habits and shows that while most people still intend to celebrate Christmas and New Year, they will be entertaining fewer people than previous years. Almost half (48%) of people globally are expecting smaller celebrations, and fewer than one in ten (9%) will celebrate with more people than in previous years. 

In the UK, nearly two thirds of people (59%) are planning smaller celebrations this year and choosing not to take advantage of the relaxed government restrictions over the Christmas period.

An e-commerce Christmas

The Consumer Pulse Survey findings also reveal how people are shopping for groceries in the festive period and found that, while most people are shopping in-store this year, nearly one third are not. Of those who are not, the majority will instead choose to shop online; in the UK this figure is even higher with nearly one in four shoppers (37%) intending to buy their groceries online this Christmas.

David Clements, global head of retail, dunnhumby says: “Online shopping for Christmas food will undoubtedly be widespread this year, although this is merely a continuation of trends we have seen since the beginning of the pandemic. Delivery slots from all major UK grocery retailers have already gone, and the challenge for retailers will be to ensure their operations are able to serve their new and loyal customers in this crucial period.”

For gift shopping, online proves to be equally popular, with 41% of respondents saying they plan to buy more gifts online this year, and 15% making more of an effort to shop locally.

Customers tighten their belts

While the main issue for shoppers over the festive season was personal concerns about Covid-19 (40%), this was closely followed by worry about finances, with almost one third of respondents (29%) saying they’ll be spending less on Christmas food this year.

While this is partly as a result of smaller celebrations, there are also signs of people being more frugal; one third of those who intend to entertain more people will still spend the same or less than last year.

Smaller social gatherings will also help shoppers save money on gifts, with 36% of respondents saying they will spend less than usual, and one in ten (10%) saying they will not buy gifts at all.

“Economic pressure remains and, in some instances, has increased,” explains Clements, “As a result, shoppers continue to seek value through lower prices and promotions, and retailers need to keep this in mind. But it’s also crucial for retailers to think beyond this festive season, and 2021 is likely to bring even more of a focus on the importance of value.”

Supermarkets trusted more than Government

The dunnhumby study also reveals that customers tend to trust their supermarket more than their government when handling the pandemic – 58% of UK shoppers say that supermarkets are doing a good job dealing with the virus, while only 20% say the same for the government.

The most recent survey also shows small, but significant increase in the dunnhumby Worry Index — a measure of overall concern by shoppers — since September. However, these levels are far below those seen at the beginning of the pandemic, showing how people have adapted even with an increase in cases in many countries.

“In a year when grocery retail has played a key role in the community it should be no surprise that retailers who put the safety of their customers and colleagues first are those that win trust and loyalty,” continues Clements. “It’s a testament to retail workers worldwide, who have been on the frontline throughout 2020, that they are so trusted by their communities.”