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Job worries supressing spending – but it could be a boon to online retailers

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Online discounting is going to be rife this Christmas, driven by sluggish sales and the ongoing fear that consumer spending will be supressed due to job woes in the market.

While a typical household in the UK spends an average £800 in December celebrating Christmas, according to Bank of England estimates, a new study of 2000 UK consumers by Brightpearl suggests that Britons are now expected to tighten the purse strings this season, with 63% of consumers admitting they need to be ‘very careful’ with their money and 40% cutting down on any ‘frivolous’ spending.

Almost one in ten (8%) now live in a household where at least one person has lost their job; a warning sign for retailers that this year’s Christmas spirit may be dampened.

The survey from Brightpearl, which provides digital operations solutions for some of the world’s biggest retail brands, also indicated some huge shifts in how UK consumers plan to approach festive shopping –  which are likely to provide opportunities to online brands and smaller players. 

Some 43% of consumers are now buying things online more than normal, as shoppers continue to avoid crowded shops and order more online.

“Retailers should be anticipating more sales online than ever before during this festive period,” says Brightpearl CEO Derek O’Carroll. “Brands with an established online presence, and with slick automated platforms that can manage demand and get items out the door really quickly are going to thrive.” 

One of the main shifts in spending habits since Covid has been the switch to more local shopping and a move away from chains. Established brands may cede further territory to smaller players over the Christmas season after 60% of consumers indicated a willingness to rediscover independent businesses and nearly two-thirds of consumers (63%) saying they will be shopping more locally over the holiday period.

“There’s positives in this data, and firms can benefit, even if we spend much of the holidays at home,” adds O’Carroll. “With customers’ preference to shop from local businesses during the festive period, an increasing number will almost certainly want the option to pick up all their online shopping from a local collection point. Retailers should consider adding local Click & Collect points to their delivery offering to capitalise on this trend.” 

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