Christmas 2013: Spending Less without Cutting Back

In the run-up to Christmas, we began thinking: what are consumers planning to do this year for Christmas? Recent press coverage has told of the start of an economic recovery, so are consumers starting to loosen the reins on their Christmas budget or are many still keeping hold of their hard earned cash? Recently, we conducted two pieces of Christmas-related research. The first of these was our yearly online Christmas tracker to determine what consumers intend to spend their Christmas budget on and where, if at all, they plan to cut back. In addition, we ran an ad-hoc online survey to look at the use of different channels for browsing and purchasing Christmas gifts for 2013.

For the majority of consumers we spoke to, it would seem that any improvement in the economy has not translated into a confidence to spend more at Christmas; 64% of consumers do not think they will spend any more on Christmas 2013 than on Christmas 2012. This intention is expressed significantly more by females (perhaps they’re not as concerned about buying their partners lavish presents!). Consumers, not wanting to miss out on all the Christmas essentials (such as presents for all the family and all the Christmas partying!) have become financially savvy during the ‘credit crunch’ years, looking out for a bargain and understanding the value of researching discounts and offers. Our research discovered that 72% of consumers plan to buy more products on special offer and 66% plan to spend more time shopping around for the best price; interestingly, both of these steps to saving money are driven by female consumers. The female dominance of Christmas is witnessed throughout our findings, with half as many females saying they will not be buying Christmas gifts than males.

In an attempt to reduce Christmas spending, many consumers are using a variety of purchasing channels – this is particularly the case for the tech-savvy that tend to use a wider variety of channels to both browse for and purchase Christmas gifts. The growth of online Christmas gift-purchasing by the mass market (and not just the tech-savvy) is evident with levels of browsing and purchasing now at parity with in-shop browsing and purchasing; 69% of consumers plan to use a PC or tablet to purchase Christmas gifts online and 26% are planning to purchase via a retailer’s website using their Smartphone (particularly consumers aged 18-44). Overall, a sizeable 63% of consumers said they are planning to do their Christmas gift shopping online more than last year. Although the increase in online purchasing is driven by younger consumers, this channel is increasingly being used across all age groups. Interestingly, the growth of online purchasing is not reflected in the proportion of consumers using retailers’ apps to purchase Christmas gifts, which is at a low 15% (most of who are the ‘tech-savvy’).

In the face of increased internet browsing and purchasing of Christmas gifts, it would seem traditional methods are still important. Catalogues, a method which could be considered a little ‘dated’, are used by one third of consumers to browse for Christmas gifts (and these browsers are in fact more likely to be tech-savvy!). It’s good to know that for some, browsing through the Argos catalogue to write their Christmas list for “Father Christmas” is still a reality! That being said, recent reports indicate that the in-store catalogue faces a digital death and has begun being replaced by tablets).

Therefore, it would seem the motto for Christmas 2013 is “Spending less without cutting back”; customers are embracing the existence of multiple purchasing channels to find the best deals for all elements of Christmas, and in particular gift shopping. This attitude to Christmas doesn’t appear to be anything new for 2013, with the majority of Christmas spending plans for gift shopping to be similar to the previous few Christmases, which makes me wonder – has Christmas on a budget become so habitual following the “credit crunch” years, that consumers are happy to stay as they are?

How are you spending this Christmas? Do you think your spending has increased this year?

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Becca Allen
01962 842211
Article date - 19/12/2013
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