As It Wasn’t Stressful Enough: Christmas Shopping in A Pandemic

Every year it’s the same: the population splits itself into two very clear groups – those that get their Christmas shopping done by the end of Summer, and those who can be found wrestling the last copy the latest Call of Duty video game from the hands of another last-minute shopper at four pm on Christmas Eve.

This year things might be very different, however. The threat of a locked-down festive period, with retailers across the country closed for business and nearly half of shoppers in the UK planning to get their shopping started by early November (https://www.blackhawknetwork.com/uk-en/resources/12-trends-christmas-shopping)., means one thing. Online shopping. With nowhere else to go, and financial hardship this year on the cards for many, what does the 2020 festive shopping experience have in store for consumers and retailers alike?

Spend is Down, But Gift Quality is Up

Deloitte’s’ recent survey of shoppers in the US (2020 Deloitte Holiday Retail Survey: Reimagining Traditions) found that the average intended spend on festive celebrations is down 7% on last year and that people are likely to spend less on gifts and more on the experiences for an at-home celebration.

It’s also predicted that people are more focussed on buying gifts that people need, rather than buying gifts for the sake of it. This means that it’s likely that gift card giving will be a popular choice this year. For many 2020 has been a reset of spending habits, forcing them to reflect on where their money goes. We’re likely to see a more utilitarian approach to gift-giving this year.

The Virtual Christmas Shopping Experience

Some retailers are fighting back against store closure by seriously elevating the online shopping experience for their customers. John Lewis is one such example.

John Lewis has created a virtual Christmas shop which allows customers to browse their shelves from the comfort of their own sofa. It works a little like Google Maps, allowing shoppers to move around the store and see real-life images of their displays. They can click on the items they like the look of and purchase. It’s a refreshing alternative to classic online shopping experiences and is likely to capture the spirit of hitting the high-street. 

Responding to Changing Consumer Behaviour

With the threat of Covid-19 still looming large, people are anxious about shopping in real life, with 51 per cent of Deloitte’s respondents saying so. This means that when shops do re-open, the Covid-19 factor may still deter last-minute shoppers from going in-store. Rod Sides of Deloitte LLP explained what he feels retailers need to do to stay attractive to shoppers, “The key for retailers is to stay flexible and offer options that appeal to consumers’ changing behaviours and address their evolving needs. Those that do will likely be better positioned for a bright holiday season.”