Despite half of UK consumers expressing habitual annoyance with seeing Christmas products and decorations in store before December, a quarter (26%) admit to have purchased Christmas gifts before August is over, showing that in fact retailers who usher in Christmas goods mid-year are just responding to demand.
This new research from leading retail job board RetailChoice has delved into the buying behaviour of consumers and revealed that what consumers say and do are wildly different. Christmas is creeping forward year-on-year in the calendar. Leading department store Selfridges opened its Christmas concession on London’s Oxford Street in July this year, a record breaking 149 days before the festive event itself. When consumers were asked, they said that 21st October was their ideal day for Christmas gift products to arrive in shops, nearly three months later.
Just under half (47%) of UK consumers intend to get shopping completed early in order to get prepared and 43% opt to do so in order to actually avoid the Christmas rush. Retailers must therefore now navigate through a precise timeline of festive planning before they even reach December, one of the most lucrative and competitive shopping periods of the year.
With discount season now kicking off from November’s Black Friday onwards, the demand from consumers to see Christmas products has certainly moved forward.
Festive buying habits
One in 20 (5%) of those surveyed have completed all their Christmas shopping by mid-November, with 42% stating they enjoy Christmas shopping early in order to enjoy a stress-free December and the build-up to Christmas. On the other end of the spectrum, half (50%) complete their Christmas gift shopping between 21st December and Christmas Day, with a staggering 23% of consumers admitting to leaving it until Christmas Eve to buy a last-minute gift.
More than half (55%) say they will buy the majority of their Christmas gifts this year online, with this significantly higher amongst younger age groups, peaking at 71% of those aged 25-34. Consumers cite factors such as better convenience (58%), the option to have shopping delivered straight to your door (46%) and better online deals (44%) as the main reasons. Two-fifths (40%) however will be hitting the high street for the large majority of their festive gifts, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, rises to 57% of those aged 65+.
Consumer Christmas insights
Thinking of the moment that signifies the start of the Christmas season, 11% start spending when Christmas decorations are put up, and the same proportion (11%) wait until the Christmas lights are turned on in their town to get them in the festive shopping mood.
When questioned, consumers honed down the ideal timeline for Christmas shopping as:
- Christmas gifts hit stores: October 21st
- Christmas decorations fill the shelves: November 6th
- Festive food tantalises our taste buds: November 7th
- Christmas music rings out the festive season: November 13th
Despite half saying they get annoyed seeing Christmas products and decorations in store before 1st December, demand clearly tells a different story. Four out of five (80%) of the retail employees surveyed revealed they start stocking festive products and Christmas lines before Halloween, with one in four (27%) stocking as early as August, in order to meet consumer demand.
Elf recruitment drives
Leading retailers have an ever-increasing demand to be bigger and better than their competitors in the run up to Christmas. With 85% of retailers intending to hire Christmas staff this year, there’s plenty of festive roles for all to go around. In fact, one in five (18%) retailers anticipate increasing their entire workforce by at least 60% in order to staff their stores this year.
Exactly half (50%) start recruiting temporary Christmas staff between 1st September and 13th October, making this prime time for candidates looking for their ideal Christmas temp role.
Oliver Wren at RetailChoice explains: “While most are enjoying the end of summer this September, consumers and retailers alike are looking forward and preparing for the busy Christmas season ahead. This year, Selfridges became the first store in the world to unveil its seasonal Christmas shop in July, responding to the growing demand for shopping outside of the traditional festive season, and other retailers are looking to follow suit. Our research has shown that despite consumers suggesting the official start of Christmas is the beginning of December, there is in fact a huge demand for festive gift products, decorations and festive food to hit shops way before. A number of buyers ideally want to get organised early in October and November, so Christmas is wrapped up and taken off the to-do list.”
Wren adds: “We also delved into the thoughts of the industry by surveying our database of retail decision makers, who revealed they are busy planning ahead for one of the busiest shopping periods in the annual calendar. This includes putting the relevant recruitment processes in place now to significantly increase staff uptake and increasing stock to ensure customers can get their hands on the popular products for Christmas presents.”