Research released by Blackhawk Network today highlights the critical importance of retailers listening to the ever-changing landscape of consumer behaviour when building their Christmas strategies this year. Every year shoppers are evolving, and as the cost-of-living crisis continues to soar, these insights are only becoming more valuable to retailers, especially as Black Friday deals are about to launch.
The survey of over 500 shoppers across EMEA seeks to understand consumer behaviour across the regions and pulls out learnings on how UK retailers can optimise their Christmas strategies. This year the research revealed that consumers are still seeing shopping as fun:
- Nearly half (43%) of UK shoppers describe themselves as impulse shoppers
- 53% sharing they love ‘retail therapy.’
- However, it must be noted that 50% of UK shoppers still admit to finding holiday shopping stressful
Shopping timeline shifts forward to spread costs
This year, money and budgeting issues could contribute to the stress of Christmas shopping
- 70% of UK consumers stated that they are concerned about inflation
- 19% of UK respondents plan to start Christmas shopping earlier than they did last year
- 41% planned to begin in October or earlier
- Of those shopping earlier than last year, nearly half (47%) are doing this to avoid having to spend on everything all at once
- 42% say this is because they want to budget Christmas spending.
- Only 7% of UK consumers plan to use Black Friday deals to support their Christmas shopping budgets.
More recently, consumers have tended to steer away from shopping on the discount day, as it can encourage excess spending, negating the savings on offer.
The rise in uncertainty in the economic climate, does mean that UK shoppers are still on the hunt for bargains to alleviate some of the financial pressures around the Christmas season. 58% of consumers plan to buy store-owned or less expensive brands in the lead up to the season, whilst also planning to use coupons (25%) and promotions (35%) more in the same period.
Buy now, pay later grows in popularity
UK consumers’ concerns over costs also play out in their intended purchasing methods. Close to a fifth of UK respondents (19%) plan to use a buy now, pay later payment method in 2023 for Christmas shopping, compared to 13% last year. This tactic is far more popular in younger generations, rising to 35% in Gen Z shoppers, compared to just 3% of Boomers. In addition, more UK consumers are planning to use a credit card to purchase Christmas gifts this year (44%), compared to last year (37%).
The retail opportunity
Gift cards however are still a popular choice for gifting with 100% of UK consumers stating they have purchased a gift card in the last 12 months. Last Christmas 73% of UK consumers bought one. The gifting of gift cards was most popular with Gen Z (89%) and younger audiences (85%). However, the Boomers are not to be ignored, with 56% of them also purchasing them. It therefore comes as no surprise that this Christmas there is a huge opportunity for retailers when developing their seasonal gift card strategy.
The cost-of-living crisis is causing consumers in the UK to change purchasing habits, and this is likely to have a huge impact on Christmas. This can create even more challenges for the retail market as the end of year is generally a significant revenue driver. The key is still being able to deliver on what the customer wants, no matter how their needs change. Whether it is offering incentives or rewards for continued loyalty or ensuring that customers have access to the gift cards they are looking for, there is no room for retailers to make mistakes.– Anna Uprichard, Vice President, Commerce, EMEA