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Christmas shopping all wrapped up online for 13%

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More than one in 10 UK shoppers will only buy their Christmas presents online this year, new research suggests.

The HSBC Christmas Spending Survey found 13% of survey respondents said they would only buy over the internet – while the same proportion said they would only shop offline. By inference, that leaves some 74% potentially shopping through both channels, and means that 87% will do at least some of their shopping online.

These two groups seem to divide by age: more under-55s said they would only shop online while more of those aged 65 and above said they would only buy offline. In all, UK shoppers told researchers they planned to spend an average of £378 on gifts for their immediate family and £183 on food, drink and entertainment. The biggest spending group by age are those aged 35-44, spending some £605.89 altogether, while geographically those in the North West are the highest spenders at £852.84.

In another finding, more women than men said they would opt to buy in the high street (71%) while they also said they would go to Christmas fetes (20%), charity shops (14) and boutique shops (10%).

Some 6% said they had already done their Christmas shopping either in last year’s January sales (1%) or through the year to September (5%). But some 30% said they would buy in the first 11 days of December and only 3% would put it off until the week before Christmas.

The survey findings also showed that almost half of Britons did not plan to cut back on gifts this year. But while 67% of people will buy Christmas presents from salary or other income, 37% will use all or some of their savings and 21% will borrow to pay for presents. Of those 22% of shoppers aged between 35 and 44 will put their purchases on their credit or store cards while 13% of 18-24-year-olds will dip into their overdraft.

The survey also found that 78% of those who plan to buy presents for their immediate family would be looking to save money and get the best value they can. Some 38% will use discount vouchers, and 34% will be cashing in retailer reward points. And 14% said they would cut people off this year’s Christmas list to save money. One in 10 will give homemade presents, while 8% will be recycling presents from previous years.

Ashtar Antoine, HSBC head of current account management, said: “Our research shows that despite the recent economic gloom, many households still plan to spend money celebrating this special time of the year. It is clear that the majority of households are looking to get the best value for their money, with discount vouchers and retailer reward schemes popular methods of saving cash.”

The impulse towards money-saving is also reflected in research from Kantar Media Compete. It found that only 20% of UK shoppers planned to spend more this year on Christmas presents than they did last year, and would on average spend £360 in total. Some 49% said they planned to do most of their Christmas shopping in November, while 21% are doing it this month. Just 1% will leave it to Christmas Eve and 4% won’t be buying anything.

John Thekanady, client services director at Kantar Media Compete UK, said: “While a quarter of Christmas shoppers do not intend to research their purchases beforehand, more than half indicate that they will rely on retailer websites to guide their purchasing decisions. Retailers need to implement sound strategies to drive shoppers to their websites during the Christmas shopping window, which now starts in October, and ensure visitors have a positive experience once they arrive on the site.”

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