Brands and retailers are being warned to prepare for “the most frugal Christmas in living memory” as the cost-of-living crisis squeezes people’s spending power. That’s according to the latest Reality Check report from advertising agency Mindshare, which asked more than a thousand UK adults how they were feeling about Christmas.
Just a quarter of those asked said they were feeling positive about the festive season – down almost 25% on the same time last year. Meanwhile, the number of people feeling very negative about Christmas (14%) was almost five times higher than this time last year.
For many respondents, this negativity is directly linked to the cost-of-living crisis. Four in 10 said they were worried about affording Christmas, while three in 10 expected to rely on credit cards more than in previous years. 35-54 year-olds are the age group most likely to be concerned, with over half worried about covering the cost of the festive season.
Despite these worries, people appear keen to make sure their loved ones enjoy Christmas, even if it means making sacrifices themselves. Two thirds (67%) said they wouldn’t be asking for much this Christmas, 59% want to make sure their kids don’t miss out, while over half (56%) predict they will be spending on loved ones rather than themselves.
A Merry Christmas is still possible
“This Christmas is quite different to anything advertisers will have experienced before,” says Julia Ayling, Head of Research & Insights, Mindshare UK. “Regardless of financial position, people will behave very differently this Christmas. All brands, even those that have traditionally been fairly recession proof will need to adapt to this.”
There are reasons to be optimistic for brands that manage to resonate with the public over the festive season, she believes.
“The ‘squeezed middle’ are making changes to make sure their loved ones can still enjoy Christmas Julia Ayling continued, “this group needs support from brands to spread cost over a longer period, treat their kids and find alternatives and substitutes that celebrate the joy of giving rather being about the monetary value.
“Let’s not forget that a less commercial Christmas can still be a special one. Tapping into the traditional values of Christmas, and what really makes us happy will resonate with the public this festive season.”
The change is already here, says Argos
By way of illustration as to how consumer habits have already shifted, data from Argos shows that searches for Air Fryers, slow cookers and cheap kettles (Boris’ legacy?) have all surged as consumers look for cheaper ways to cook and taking their inspiration from TikTok videos.
‘Air fryer’ was the number one search term last week, with 1.84 million searches, equating to three searches per second. Argos was selling 1.6 air fryers per minute last week as many Brits are seeking more energy efficient ways to cook, as well as being inspired by trends on TikTok, where the hashtag ‘#airfryer’ has a total of 4.5 billion views.
Searches for slow cookers were up a stonking 73% compared to the previous week, with searches containing the word ‘efficient’ up by 126% (week on week). Also, a popular cooking method on social, the hashtag ‘#slowcooker’ has 347 million views on TikTok with swathes of cooks sharing their home recipes.
Kettle sales were up by 18% from Friday 2nd September, in line with Boris Johnson’s announcement that purchasing a new kettle could save you £10 per year on your energy bill.
Matt Leeser, Business Unit Director, Seasonal, Toys and Electricals, at Argos comments: “The health and energy efficiency benefits of air fryers and slow cookers are all over social media right now, so it’s no wonder customers are snapping these appliances up! We’ve seen demand rise hugely, with 1.6 air fryers sold every minute last week. Argos offers a wide range of energy efficient electricals for all budgets and households, and we are always happy to help our customers find the best product for their needs.”