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Young and old, British consumers will be reaching for smartphones this Christmas as they shop in bed, at work and on the toilet

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UK consumers are going to be Christmas shopping harder than ever before on their smartphones this year, according to new research by digital analytics company Catchpoint.

A majority (47%) of all respondents of all ages say they use their smartphone to shop and nearly a third of all British shoppers (29%) say they will do more online shopping on their smartphone this Christmas. However, Millennials (aged 20-30) are much more likely than older shoppers to use their smartphones to shop with 46% of younger shoppers compared to only 12% of older shoppers aged over 50 years, saying they’ll do more gift shopping on their mobiles than last year.

The study reveals a growing generational divide in festive shopping. Millennials appear to be increasingly turned off High Street or mall shopping for Christmas, with a higher percentage of Millennials (42%) compared to older shoppers aged 50 years older (29%) saying shopping on their smartphones meant they would have a happier Christmas gift shopping experience; and it would be a better experience than visiting physical stores (47% of Millennials; 32% of older shoppers).

As more shoppers use their smartphones for their festive present shopping, the top online retail spots are revealed in this survey. For all ages, bed is where most of the retail activity goes on, followed by their desk during lunchbreaks. But UK Millennials say sitting on the toilet is the third most common place for them to do their Christmas shopping.

Retailers need to respond to this more digitally aware generation. A third of Millennials say lack of Internet access would make them less likely to enter a store. However, the extent to which in-store access benefits retailers is complex; after checking their shopping list, comparing prices with competitors and taking pictures of items to shop elsewhere online are the second- and third-ranked reasons to use a store’s WiFi.Browsing a store’s website or opening its app are very distant fourth and fifth reasons.

Dr Paul Redmond, a leading expert on generational theory, commented on the research, saying: “For UK millennials, smartphones define Christmas gift shopping. It gives them convenience and control in how they choose to browse and make purchases. For this generation the technology is simply an extension of them and the quality of digital experience matters hugely in whether they’ll shop with one brand over another.”

Poor digital shopping experience will harm both online and physical in-store retail for all ages, according to the survey’s findings. A high percentage of consumers of all ages (63%) said that while their shopping on their smartphone is good, it is spoiled by slow loading websites and apps. There seems to be wider impact on brand reputation, so poor technical performance means consumers will avoid making purchases from that website or mobile app again (60% of all respondents), or even be less likely to visit a retailer in-store because of a negative online or mobile experience (47% of all respondents).

Mehdi Daoudi, CEO and co-founder of Catchpoint adds: “Digital Christmas has been around for years now, but this study shows how consumers are changing their behaviour to not only Christmas shop less on the High Street but also on their desktop devices. Getting the retail experience right for smartphones is now absolutely essential for retailers, especially if they want to target younger consumers whose use of mobile ecommerce is exploding.”

Market research firm OnePoll was commissioned by Catchpoint to survey 1000 UK consumers with half aged between 20 and 30 years old, and the other half aged over 50 years old.

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