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PEAK 2022 Shoppers buying early to beat inflation: study

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Half (50%) of UK shoppers have already started their Christmas shopping, with 45% buying earlier than usual in order to beat inflationary price rises, a new study suggests. 

Sensormatic Solutions questioned more than 1,000 UK adults for its UK Retail: Shopper Sentiment Report 2022 and found that on top of the 50% that have already started buying, a further 29% plan to do so in November – and 31% had already starte shopping in September. By the beginning of December, 79% say they will certainly have started their Christmas shopping. 

Price will be the most important issue when shopping for 74% of shoppers – nine percentage points (pp) higher than last year – and 67% (+23pp) plan to spend less than they did last year. Some 73% say they will spend more time looking for deals this year, and almost a quarter (23%) say they are buying earlier to avoid supply chain disruption. With Royal Mail strikes set to affect Black Friday and Cyber Monday, 17% said they had started buying early in order to avoid shipping delays. And 42% said they would be more likely to shop in-store in order to be certain of product availability. 

Andy Sumpter, Sensormatic Solutions’ EMEA retail consultant, says: “Pricing and product availability are coming through strongly as key factors impacting consumer behaviour over Christmas trading this year. As such many retailers are already responding with price freezes to support customers, even though at the same time they are also keenly feeling the rising cost bases across their supply chains, purchasing and labour costs.”

Sumpter says retailers should consider that in-store peaks may not follow traditional patterns. “This means adjusting staffing levels to ensure customer service and CX in-store can be maintained and, with product availability also ranking high on shoppers’ agendas, considering additional fulfilment options such as click-and-collect, to meet these demands and drive ambient footfall into store.”

Growing appetite to buy secondhand

More UK adults would now consider giving preloved Christmas presents in the light of the rising cost of living, a study from Shopiago suggests. It has tracked attitudes among 2,000 UK adults and found that 37% would be happy to give – or to receive – a secondhand gift – up from 29% in February. It also found a significant shift towards buying preloved children’s gifts.

Thom Bryan, head of product at Shopiago, says: “Brits have always been a nation of charity shop lovers, but many people would historically stop short of buying a preloved present for a friend or family member for Christmas. It’s eye-opening to see that this number has grown so drastically over the past seven months.

“Charity shopping can be a great way to find some bargains, save money, support a good cause and do your bit for the planet; so it is good to see that more people are recognising these benefits, although sad that it’s in the context of skyrocketing costs. Many people still don’t know that almost all major charities now sell online – making it even easier for those looking for bargain gifts this Christmas.”

Shopiago, part of the World of Books Group, works with organisations including British Red Cross and Sue Ryder to sell shop donations online. 

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