The FINANCIAL — The falling pound and an uncertain financial future following Brexit should not have a significant impact on Christmas spending this year, according to a study by Aston University.
The survey, conducted by the Aston Centre for Retail Insights (ACRI), examined how much money people intended on spending this year, what gifts were at the top of most people’s wish lists, and where they planned on buying their presents.
Of the 1,076 people who participated across Britain, 78.1% said they would keep their Christmas spending stable this year even with Brexit considered. Only 15.2% said they planned on reducing their spending while 6.7% said they would spend more.
However, those surveyed who are ‘just about managing’ (JAMs) are preparing to tighten their wallets. The study predicts a 10% drop in JAMs’ spending from £300 last year, to an expected £276 this year.
The study also revealed that people find Christmas shopping stressful and uninspiring. Dr Heiner Evanschitzky, Professor of Marketing and ACRI co-director, said this need not be the case.
“Shopping for Christmas gifts should be enjoyable. However, it is perceived as a task we all have to do, rather than something we want to do. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of us now buy our Christmas presents online. To win over these online shoppers, brick-and-mortar retailers must think about making Christmas shopping an experience – something fun and inspiring.”
A holiday was found to be the most-wanted gift this year (25%), followed by clothing or shoes (23%), and gift vouchers (16%). The first two – a vacation and clothing/shoes – were in the top three wish lists for both men and women. However, books took the number two spot for women (43.3%) while consumer electronics took third place for men (14.6%).
The surge in online shopping is continuing, even among older consumers. 78% of customers will buy their Christmas presents online this year, compared to 48% in high street shops and 45% in department stores. Internet shopping was found to be the most widely used shopping method for both men and women across all age groups and income classes. Online shopping far surpassed the local high street in the 56-65 age bracket, with 72% choosing online compared with 44.2% opting for the local high street.
Christmas shopping was found to be a ‘major task’ for most people, with 7 out of 10 respondents planning to buy presents for at least five people. Two-thirds said they plan to make at least three shopping trips. Meanwhile, many consumers also struggle to know what to buy, with nearly 80% of people perceiving present selection ‘a real challenge’ for at least one person.
The study is one of the first to come out of the Aston Centre for Retail Insights (ACRI) – whose purpose is to conduct ‘relevant, cutting-edge research, using the latest techniques to analyse and make sense of data’. The centre is to provide insights on four areas: customer insights, retail strategy, retail mix, and retail/service innovation and technology.