Christmas 2020: shopping and spending this festive season.

Posted by Amy Nichols on the 19th October, 2020

We’ve been delighted to partner with Retail Week recently to uncover how people are feeling about Christmas this year. It’s been a crazy year, there’s no doubting it. We’ve been tracking the nation’s emotions throughout as part of our study Understanding The Nation and exploring how emotions and uncertainty are impacting behaviour.

In the retail sector, this has provoked so many transformations, decisions and radical moves to the way things are done. Social distancing, rule of 6, concern over hygiene, stock issues – the ability of retailers to move quickly to make changes has been truly tested this year. We wanted to explore what Christmas will look like this year.

As Retail Week has reported, Retail Economics forecasts festive-period spend will be down between 3.1% and 4.1% year on year – based on current government guidance and not taking into account any further lockdown restrictions over the Golden Quarter – while Retail Week Prospect analysis predicts sales could be down as much as 6% year on year.

It’s likely to be the weakest festive period in recent memory. There will be real polarisation between the most and least affluent households in the UK. Richard Lim, Retail Economics.

In our research for Retail Week, shoppers said they plan to spend less this Christmas than they did last year. Last year, we were concerned that Brexit fears and a General Election close to Christmas may impede spend. This year, our concerns are more global and more longstanding.

We can also see that consumers are already planning a change to how they celebrate Christmas : thinking about intimate, smaller gatherings rather than large family get togethers. According to our data more than half (54%) of shoppers say they plan to spend Christmas exclusively with their immediate family. By contrast, just 1% of shoppers plan to see extended family and friends alongside immediate family for Christmas, while 9% plan to see just family.

Smaller and more selective Christmas celebrations will have substantial implications for what festive shopping baskets might look like this year.

Multiple Christmas celebrations.

Retail Week have also reported that the combination of social restrictions and Christmas falling over a weekend has led Notonthehighstreet’s chief commercial officer Ella d’Amato to believe that we might spread our Christmas celebrations over several days, rather than condensing them into one day.

With so much to reflect upon and Christmas falling on a Friday, we anticipate that many will use the long weekend to have three or four Christmases with those they love. With the uncertainty as to how, where and with whom families and friends will spend the festive period, we believe there will be a move to celebrating multiple Christmases this year. Ella d’Amato, Notonthehighstreet

The smaller Christmas gathering, paired with the general uncertainty and job insecurity, could dramatically impact our festive shopping list this year. As one Ecommerce chief executive observes: “The thing that will spook the whole sector is the rule of six. If that runs through December, what does that mean for Christmas party season, gifting, the family event.”

To chat more about consumer attitudes in the run-up to Christmas, please get in touch to see how we can help! You can also read the full article, available here:

Meet the Author: Amy Nichols
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