UK shoppers set to keep tight hold on purse strings this Christmas, Shoppercentric research finds

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A new research report examining changing shopper behaviour and spending plans has been launched today by Shoppercentric, a leading independent shopper research agency. The report, entitled: “WindowOn…Spending habits” surveyed more than 1,000 UK shoppers aged 18+ and reveals that changes made by shoppers during the economic downturn have indeed become engrained, and prudent behavior is the new norm – even when it comes to Christmas plans.

“Whilst fewer shoppers claim to be needing to make major reductions to their household spending this year compared with 2013, it seems that UK shoppers are not yet ready to throw caution to the wind, not even for Santa,” said Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric.

“The powers that be may be telling us that the UK is in growth again but our research shows 60% of UK shoppers are still experiencing rising costs while their income remains static and a further 14% are dealing with a job loss or pay reduction. Little wonder then shoppers will be using their carefully honed savviness to make their money stretch further this Christmas. We’re not however talking parsimony – the tills will still be ringing this Christmas – but with new money-saving tools in our armoury it seems that a merry Christmas can also be a smart one.”

Key findings:

  • Are shoppers concerned by economic pressures?
    • One in three shoppers can’t be sure how confident they are or not in the economic future. This is especially true of women 41% versus 29% of men
    • 285 of all shoppers aren’t confident in the economic future
    • Three out of four shoppers take some or a lot of notice of the economy – with quite a difference between men and women (82% compared to 76% respectively)
  • So will it be a thrifty Christmas? 
    • 44% of UK shoppers said they needed to keep to a tight budget this year
    • 32% felt there was too much pressure to get carried away with Christmas
    • 29% agreed that the economic downturn had taught them to be careful and they wanted to keep it that way
    • Just 9% of shoppers said that they felt they deserved more treats this year and expect to spend extra this Christmas (than in 2013)
    • Only 5% of those surveyed said they had more money available this year and would be spending more than last year
    • The average spend on a partner will be £123. Men however, will be splashing out more with an average £168 spend on their partner. Women plan to spend a much smaller £89 on their partners.
  • How will they be buying? 
    • 65% of shoppers will choose the channel that gives them the best prices – be it online or in-store
    • Online is going to play as big a role as bricks and mortar stores this season when buying presents – just one percent difference between the two (78% will be going instore to make purchases this Christmas and 77% of shoppers will go online via desktops and laptops). Worthy of note is that 18-34 year olds are more likely to go online for their present shopping than use the stores (83% versus 79%)
    • 20% of shoppers will use traditional catalogues to browse for and purchase presents
    • 19% plan to use a tablet to make present purchases this Christmas and 14% will use their mobile phones
    • Just 3% will make use of internet TV for present shopping
  • What appeals to shoppers (online versus bricks and mortar stores)? 
    • 47% of shoppers choose to go online to avoid crowds
    • 50% prefer to go instore to ensure they get the right present
    • 21% still have concerns about buying online in case the present doesn’t turn up, so won’t use this channel
    • “Showrooming” i.e. going instore to browse and then going online to get the item at the lowest prices possible, appeals to 30% of shoppers
    • However when it comes to Christmas grocery shopping, 86% of shoppers will go in-store vs 40%  online
  • What delivery methods will online shoppers be using? 
    • 30% of all shoppers plan on using click & collect this year – which could be a huge traffic driver to stores. This rises to 41% in Scotland
    • 25% of shoppers agreed that click & collect would make a big difference to their shopping this year
    • 93% will arrange for home deliveries and 10% to work addresses

“Retailers and brands won’t be able to rest on their laurels this year and expect the festive spirit alone to work its magic,” Pinnington said. “It’s a make-or-break season for many businesses and with shoppers looking to squeeze the most value from their Christmas spending and make every penny count, retailers and brands will need to earn their custom through keen pricing, genuine added value and by proactively communicating and selling to potential shoppers and consumers at every opportunity.

“The rise in popularity of click & collect will help to drive more shoppers instore and presents retailers with a huge opportunity to really lay on the ambience, and roll out the tempting displays to play to their strengths and encourage incremental purchasing. If they could tempt each of those customers to pick up just one extra item in addition to their parcel collection, retailers will be able to deliver a seriously big uplift in sales.”

Shoppercentric chart - UK shopper spending attitudes - in percentage