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PEAK 2019 Are questions of cost and sustainability changing the way we shop?

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In today’s Peak 2019 round up, we report on studies that suggest shoppers will spend less this year, either to save money or in an effort to be more sustainable. 

British shoppers to rein back spending this year

UK shoppers plan to spend an estimated £29.6bn on Christmas presents this year – but will cut costs as they do so, a study from suggests. 

The reserach, carried out by Onepoll and questioning 2,000 UK adults, suggests that the average shopper will spend £512.85 this Christmas – with 50% spending £250 or less – and that 60% plan to cut the amount they spend. The largest group will do that by setting a price limit on presents (39%), while others will give experience gifts such as massages or picnics (15%), make their own gifts (13%), organise a Secret Santa (11%) or regift or buy second-hand gifts (10%). 

Jon Ostler, chief executive of, said: “It is interesting to see so many of us are thinking about how we can make our money go further or focus on experiences this Christmas. It can be a great feeling to give, or receive, a present, but it doesn’t need to break the bank! 

“You will need to think about what your family and friends will value, but why not consider doing something really meaningful like learning to cook a new dish, making something or planning a day out somewhere. These could last longer in the memory than a product.”

Marketplaces could benefit from new appetite for secondhand gifts 

Some 88% of UK consumers would be happy to receive a present bought on a resale marketpace, such as eBay, Etsy or Facebook Marketplace this Christmas, a study from GlobalWebIndex suggests.

Research for its Trends 2020 report questioned 2,154 UK consumers and found resale platforms rising in popularity at a time when just over half (55%) of respondents believe that the UK economy will worsen in the next six months, compared to 19% in the rest of the world. At the same time, 49% believed that the state of the natural environment will worsen, contrasted with 26% around the world. 

Some 62% of respondents said they would be prepared to make such a purchase this year, although some would be unsure what the recipient would think. When asked about the most important elements when buying from a marketplace, respondents said that buyers needed to be reassured of the item’s quality (63%), the seller’s trustworthiness (52%) and the authenticity of the item (49%), potentially explaining the preference for larger retailers. However, just 27% said a quick shipping time was a priority. Four in 10 (40%) said they would happily sacrifice a fast shipping time to get a better price for an item.

Chase Buckle, trends manager at GlobalWebIndex, said: “A key driver behind the growing popularity of resale marketplaces is the opportunity to buy rare and retro items. What’s surprising is feelings of nostalgia are not exclusive to older generations, with eight in ten millennials expressing they experience feelings of nostalgia (no matter how strong) at least occasionally, with four in ten saying they do so often. This is the market that second-hand marketplaces such as Depop and Carousell sell into very effectively.”

How might ‘ethical consumerism’  affect peak trading?

Andy Burton, chief executive of digital consultancy Tryzens has contrasted the high levels of Black Friday sales with efforts to combat the ‘hyperconsumerism’ of the peak trading event. He says that while retailers such as Deciem and House of Hackney have promoted ethical consumption for Black Friday in a bid to move away from the world of flash sales and instant gratification, others have focused on ensuring that their customers enjoy the shopping experience by not being rushed to impulse buy.

He said: “With recent research revealing that almost 80% of consumers say they have switched or boycotted buying products in the last year, or are thinking of doing so, due to a brand’s environmental reputation, the question is whose responsibility is the environmental impact of Black Friday – the consumer or the brand?

“Ultimately, the fact of the matter is, there needs to be a balance between a commercial responsibility from the brand to make money during the Black Friday period, and an ethical responsibility. At the moment, it seems it is all too easy for consumers to blame the brands they purchase from, instead of taking joint ownership of the environmental impact of their shopping habits. So above all, there needs to be an onus on customers to buy and act responsibly and not be allowed to get rushed into making purchasing decisions, driven by the fear of a sell-out. 

“That being said, there are a number of factors that retailers and brands should consider to ensure they don’t miss out on their share of the consumers’ wallet, while being careful not to encourage consumers to make erratic purchases. This can include sustainable packaging over premium packaging, even if only for the promotional period so as to not impact the brand image over time. Similarly, green, longer delivery timeslots over free delivery can have a positive impact. Finally, ensuring a visually strong ecommerce platform is in place that encourages consumers to make the right choices and avoids bad purchase decisions that then need to be returned.”

Image: Adobe Stock

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