Tribes Christmas Shopping Survey

Bad News for Retailers as New Survey Finds Christmas Shoppers Will Spend Less This Year

Lack of consumer confidence, increased utility bills and higher food prices mean twice as many people will spend less this Christmas

A new report predicts a gloomy Christmas for retailers as twice as many shoppers say they will spend less on gifts this year. A lack of consumer confidence and concern over increasing energy and food prices all add up to bad news for high street stores according to the annual Christmas shopping survey by Tribes Research.

With purse strings pulled increasingly tight, 28% of people are expecting to spend less this year than last, compared with just 11% planning to push the boat out with a bigger budget. This frugal approach to the festive season will see bars and clubs fare even worse than the high street with a staggering 35% pledging to cut back on seasonal drinks and meals out. Just 8% expect to spend more this year than last.

Although the UK is officially out of recession many people are still suffering from rising prices and lower disposable incomes and these are the main reasons given for cutting back on Christmas spending this year. Rising food and utility prices are most often mentioned, particularly by pensioners, the disabled and the unemployed.

Many feel that they simply can’t afford the luxury of Christmas and others have vowed to drop gift giving altogether for some family members and instead select just a few relatives to spoil. The rising cost of living and increased energy bills were the most frequently given reasons for a much shorter shopping list this year. One commented “I will be cutting back on how many friends and members of my family that I buy for. I will only be buying for the younger members of my family.  This is because of rising utility bills and the rise of the general cost of living.

There is also recognition that past Christmases have been too extravagant with too much going to waste. The cautious approach to the festive season isn’t just limited to gifts with many also planning to buy less food with one shopper saying, “I will be spending less overall on presents – I overspent on my Grand- daughters and they had too many presents to appreciate they were bewildered.  I will also try to cut down on food because I usually over-buy and end up throwing food away which I can’t afford to do.

Despite so many shoppers vowing to spend less, just under half the population (49%) have already started stockpiling presents, with 56% of women and 41% of men getting a hard start on the Christmas rush. One of the key reasons for stocking up early is simply too feel organized (65%) with just a third (32%) admitting to spur of the moment buys. Overall, the survey points to a much more measured approach with most Brits resigned to reigning in this year’s celebrations.

Jo Winning, co-founder of Tribes Research said, “It’s clear that the excess of years gone by is very much a thing of the past for the majority of UK households. There is a general feeling of austerity although the economy is growing and the recession is officially over. The higher cost of living and particularly increased utility bills mean most homes are feeling the pinch and with budgets squeezed, its retailers, bars and restaurants that are going to feel the effects.”

The Christmas Shopping survey was conducted by Tribes Research using its own online market research community, Tribe Village. The survey was completed by a representative sample of 921 UK residents between 18-24 October 2013. The survey sample was balanced by gender, age group and region.

Other key findings from the Christmas Shopping Survey 2013

  • A third of Christmas shopping started before September
  • Most Christmas shopping so far is due to people being well organized (65%). A third of purchases (32%) are spontaneous – bought on a whim.
  • Advertising is so far not a factor in Christmas shopping although 32% are a result of in-store promotions and Christmas related in-store promotions have had the greatest influence on shopping so far of all promotional activity, with two-thirds citing some influence on their Christmas shopping so far and 30% starting shopping earlier than normal due to Christmas advertising and promotions
  • Despite half the population already doing some Christmas shopping 77% think the retail industry starts Christmas too soon. That is 71% of those who have started Christmas shopping and 83% of those that have not.
  • The beginning of November is the most popular time for the advertising and displaying of Christmas products to start (35%), closely followed by the middle of November (30%).
  • Only 9% think retailers should wait until December to start their Christmas advertising
  • Women are happier to see Christmas advertising start early with 39% favouring the beginning of November compared to 30% of men.

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