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Consumers to prioritise bargains, loved ones and hybrid experiences this Christmas

Consumers plan to prioritise bargains, buying for only their close loved ones and hybrid shopping experiences this festive season as they plan to cut back on spending, according to new research.

The annual Winter Shopping study from Havas Media Group UK, which examines 1000 UK shoppers’ behavioural intentions around key upcoming winter shopping occasions such as Black Friday and Christmas, finds that consumers are expecting to spend less on Christmas this year, with 73% overall identifying the cost of living as the reason for cutting back.

However, this is lower for younger consumers, with only 61% of 18 to 24s citing this reason. Despite overall cutbacks, younger cohorts are also most likely to increase their spending on Christmas this year, with 14% of 18 to 34-year-olds saying they will spend more. 

The study found that the challenges the British public is facing are having an impact on what they are prioritising this year from Christmas in three key areas.

Consumers on the lookout for bargains

The study shows that consumers are more likely to be looking for bargains this winter, with 65% saying that “Getting good deals is more important to me this year, as money is tighter” – representing a 15-percentage point (hereafter, ‘pp’) net increase year-on-year. This view is particularly evident among 25 to 34-year-olds, with 75% agreeing. 

A third (36%) of respondents agree that “I am excited about getting a bargain in the Black Friday sales”. Again, younger respondents are more likely to express this sentiment, with nearly three fifths (54%) of 18 to 34-year-olds agreeing.

Revealing consumer expectations of brands this winter, 46% of those surveyed agree that “I’m expecting retailers to be making bigger discounts this year”. This attitude is most prevalent among 18 to 24-year-olds (55%). 

The youngest respondents to the survey are most likely to be looking out for bargains this Christmas, with 42% of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they will rely on retail discounts, compared to 30% of respondents overall.

Gifts for close loved ones are priority

Of those who will be shopping on Black Friday, gifts for immediate family are seen as most important, chosen as the main focus for 30% of respondents (largely unchanged year-on-year). 

In contrast, intention to purchase for friends, wider family and self-gifting have all significantly fallen this year, suggesting that people are using Black Friday as an opportunity to start looking for bargains and purchase Christmas gifts for their closest loved ones. 

Gifts for immediate family will also be the priority for Christmas shopping this year, with two thirds (65%) of respondents saying it will be their focus (in line with last year), while intention to buy for less immediate family and friends has dropped significantly. 

When it comes to ways people will save money this Christmas, respondents are most likely to buy less expensive gifts for people (59%), while 45% say they will spend less on food, and, consistent with Black Friday, 43% say they will buy gifts for fewer people.

Consumers seeking hybrid shopping experiences 

The study reveals there is a greater propensity for hybrid shopping experiences (a blend of physical and digital retail) among consumers this year, with the legacy of Covid-19 having taken root. 

British shoppers are more likely to do their Black Friday shopping in a hybrid way in 2022, with a quarter (25%) of respondents saying they will do their shopping both online and instore, a net increase of 7pp year-on-year. 

29% say they will mainly do their Black Friday shopping online, a net decrease of 3pp year-on-year, while 10% say they will mainly shop at either a shopping centre or on the high street, a net decrease of 4pp and 3pp respectively year-on-year.

The online/offline hybrid method of shopping has seen the biggest boost among younger consumers, with a 12pp increase year-on-year for those aged 18 to 34.

Similarly, half (52%) of respondents plan to do their Christmas shopping in a hybrid way (an 11%-point net increase year-on-year). This trend is even more pronounced among younger consumers with a 25pp increase among 18 to 24s. 

Laura Bebbington, Managing Partner, Insight, Havas Media Group, comments: “Our latest study paints a fascinating picture of the way in which consumer attitudes towards winter shopping have changed post-Covid and in light of growing financial pressures. With a greater need to economise this year, many people are seeking out bargains and prioritising gifts for their closest loved ones.

“In contrast, younger consumers are displaying less caution with their spending on both Black Friday and Christmas this year, perhaps indicating that they’re more positive about the road to recovery from the cost-of-living crisis, or the long-term impact on their finances.”

Pedro Ramos, Head of Ecommerce, Havas Market, Havas Media Group’s specialist ecommerce consulting agency, adds: “Post-Covid, and in the current financial climate, consumers are more conscious of how and where they spend their money, so brands will need to make an effort to promote the online and offline experience synchronously, so that the consumer feels captivated, part of the process and in control of their choices.

“We also see big variations in attitudes to spending this festive period, meaning that brands should take a highly-targeted, personalised approach to Black Friday and Christmas communications, harnessing the most meaningful media that offers a seamless path-to-purchase and enables people to shop quickly and easily this festive season.”

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