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A third of Christmas shopping expected to take place online in 2020: study

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A third of all Christmas spending is forecast to take place online this year, as shoppers spend 25% – or £5.6bn – more on ecommerce than they did last year, new research suggests. But offline – store – spending is expected to fall by 7% at the same time. 

Shoppers are forecast to spend 1.6% – or £1.3bn – more across all channels, than they did last year, according to the Shopping for Christmas 2020 report, carried out by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR). 

In total, the report expects shoppers to spend £84.5bn over Christmas – or £1,206.19 per adult. 

Offline – or in-store – spending is expected to fall by 7% to £60.85bn. That would mean that 67% of sales take place offline. Online spending, meanwhile, is expected to grow by 25.1% to £27.9bn. That would mean it accounted for 33% of all retail sales – up from 26.8% last Christmas.

Anita Naik, lifestyle editor at, said: “The pandemic has without a doubt interrupted ‘normal’ life for everyone this year, so it’s no surprise that it will also impact consumer spending over the Christmas period.  Although there are so many uncertainties around the impact of Covid-19, it’s amazing to see that retailers can still expect to see a boost to sales this year. 

“With people staying at home more so than ever, the rapid shift to online shopping has come as no surprise.”

Gift spending is expected to fall by 9% compared to 2019, to an average of £234.23, from an average of £257.50 in 2019. This year, consumer electronics are expected to sell strongly with spending in the category up by 10%, while spending on food and drink is expected to fall by 2.3% over the Christmas weekend. However, spending on travel is expected to fall by 27.7%. 

Online sales have risen quickly this year, driven by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns. Both the IMRG and BRC retail organisations have encouraged shoppers to buy online earlier rather than later in order to smooth demand so that retailers and logistics companies can cope with unprecedented levels of demand.

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