Consumer spending expectations - Christmas 2021
Consumers appear cautious about spending this Christmas, with few expecting to spend more than last year, despite having fewer covid-19 restrictions in place.
The pandemic has accelerated a shift towards online shopping, but the majority of consumers still expect to do at least some of their Christmas shopping in-store this year.
Convenience is the most common reason given for shopping more online, but in-store shoppers like being able to physically see and feel products before they buy.
Despite lighter restrictions, most consumers are not expecting to spend more this Christmas
2021 marks another unique Christmas for UK consumers. There are far fewer covid-19 restrictions in place across most of the country, but uncertainty still remains over high case rates and virus variants emerging. Furthermore, consumers face high inflation rates expected to continue into the new year, and retailers warn of possible shortages over the Christmas period. Two-fifths of consumers told us that they are worried about the cost of Christmas this year.
Overall, this casts doubt over the extent to which this year will mark a return to a more ‘normal’ Christmas. Last year we reported on the expectations of many consumers to spend less on Christmas amid the pandemic. This year, we might expect consumers to spend more amid lighter restrictions.
However, this is not borne out in the data. In our survey, an equal proportion of consumers said they expect to spend less as expect to spend more on Christmas this year, at a quarter each. The plurality (44%) expect to spend around the same. Spending expectations could decline further if inflation continues to rise and fears over the Omicron variant of coronavirus lead to cancellations of Christmas celebrations.
Online shopping is popular, but a significant proportion still expect to do much of their Christmas shopping in-store
Beyond spending levels, the covid-19 pandemic also impacted on how consumers shopped, accelerating the shift towards more online shopping. ONS data shows that the proportion of retail sales made online increased rapidly in 2020, on top of an already upward trend.
Whilst restrictions may have eased this year, we do not know the extent to which that will trigger a return to in-store shopping. To explore this, we asked consumers whether they expect to do more of their Christmas shopping (excluding grocery shopping) online or in-store. The plurality (40%) said they expect to do most of their shopping online, but 29% expected to do about half online and half in-store, and 23% expected to do more in-store. 7% were unsure as of yet.
Whilst there appears to be a preference for shopping more online, the data indicates that consumers still want to shop in-store, with over 50% expecting to do most or half of their shopping in-store. In-store shopping was more popular among older consumers.
Online shopping is popular for its convenience, but in-store shopping has the benefit of seeing the product
Among the 40% of consumers who expected to do more of their Christmas shopping online, convenience was the most common reason for doing so, with seven in ten stating this as a reason for wanting to do more online. Half (52%) said that they wanted to avoid the crowds, and half said they can find lower prices or better deals online.
Despite cases of Covid-19 remaining high in the UK, the infection risk was the least common reason given, although it still contributed to preferring to shop online for 30%.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of consumers expected to shop more in-store than online, with the most common reason (given by 73% of this portion of the sample) being that they can see / feel what they are buying.
The fieldwork was conducted by Yonder on behalf of Which between 17th and 18th November 2021. A sample of 2,076 consumers was surveyed and weighted to be nationally representative.
If you have any questions or would like to find out more, please email Sophie Beesley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on 3.12.21