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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.

Contact us

If you have any questions or would like to find out more, please email Sophie Beesley at consumerinsight@which.co.uk

Published on 3.12.21

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