Shoppers will be buying online and especially on mobile phones as they complete their Christmas shopping this year, says the Centre for Retail Research, in research carried out for VoucherCodes.co.uk.
It found that 32% of Christmas spending would be spent online this festive season. That’s up from 29% in 2017, and comes as shopping on mobile devices increased to £13.6bn in 2018 from £11.3bn in 2017, according to CRR figures.
That said, last-minute Saturday buying is set to see 10.1m shoppers visit the shops in search of certainty about receiving gifts, contrasting with 4.8m looking online.
The CRR figures also suggest that households in the UK will spend an average £831 on Christmas this year, including £493 on gifts, £238 on food and drink - and £32 on decorations.
Nielsen predicts that shoppers will spend a collective £7bn on groceries in the two weeks to December 29. It says the fact that Christmas Eve falls on a Monday means it’s all to play for - despite a slow start so far this season, with 43% of shoppers saying it’s not a good time to spend - and it’s predicting potential sales growth of 4%.
Mike Watkins, Nielsen’s UK head of retailer insight, said: “It’s been a slow start to Christmas in 2018, and in particular for the grocery multiples. The good news is that we still expect shoppers to spend on seasonal treats and indulgences as well as premium food and drink when shopping and to enjoy the festive season with family and friends. This will provide some much-needed sales momentum in particular for the big supermarkets."
So far, finds Nielsen, Asda has seen the fastest-growing sales (+1.5%), Morrison’s growth was flat and Tesco (-0.1%) and Sainsbury’s (-0.4%) were both slightly down. Growth categories include gin, pre-mixed alcoholic drinks and salty snacks.
Watkins said: "Retailers have been putting a real focus on increasing the frequency of visits that shoppers make to stores. The ‘little and often’ shopping trend is just as important at Christmas and, as shoppers tend to expand their store repertoire at this time of year, now is the time for retailers to take the opportunity in the lead up to the holidays to make sure they’ve got all the festive favourites stocked alongside attractive offers."
As more shopping takes place online, more products are likely to be returned. A record number of returns is expected in January, says Antalis Packaging, citing ParcelHero figures that suggest returns represent 47% of shipments in the first few days of the year.
"Each year, the UK received around £2.2bn worth of unwanted Christmas gifts, which in recent years has spurred a phenomenal growth in returns during the first few weeks of the New Year," said Andrew Smedley, head of ecommerce and logistical packaging at Antalis Packaging.
"As a result, many retailers are struggling to cope with the cost of servicing this unprecedented level of returns, which inevitably puts a massive strain on their profits margins. however there are many ways in which retailers can limit these costs, which often starts with streamlining the returns process to limit the touchpoint each package goes through before it can go back up for resale. Also, ensuring that all packaging is returns-ready can minimise any damage that occurs in the rigorous logistics environment, while optimising warehouse operations not only frees-up valuable storage space but can also create a slicker returns process."
YouTube says that John Lewis has won out for the top Christmas ad of 2018, as measured by views on YouTube.
The department store’s ad, featuring Elton John, was followed by Sainsbury’s, Argos, Iceland - with its banned ad campaigning against palm oil – and Very.co.uk.