The FINANCIAL -- Amid signs of greater economic optimism, almost a third of U.K. consumers (31 percent) plan to increase their spending on holiday shopping his year, according to Accenture’s 2014 Christmas Shopping Survey. The survey indicates that more than a quarter of consumers (27 percent) are planning to spend £250 or more on Christmas shopping than they did in 2013.
More than half of British consumers plan their Christmas shopping in advance: 57 percent had already started or planned to start purchasing presents by mid-September. In addition, one in five consumers (21 percent) had already spent between £60 and £300 on Christmas gifts by mid-September.
More than half (54 percent) of the survey respondents said they will put cash aside to pay for their Christmas shopping with a third (32 percent) planning to do so to take advantage of special “door buster deals.” Nearly all respondents (93 percent) said that discounts are the primary driver of purchasing decisions related to their holiday shopping, according to Accenture survey.
The survey shows that in the run up to the holiday season, the adoption of U.S. retail milestones is clearly taking a stronghold in the U.K. In fact, 82 percent of respondents plan to shop on Black Friday and 62 percent on Cyber Monday. The survey found that clothing (64 percent), grocery items (49 percent), gift cards (41 percent) and toys (37 percent) top British consumers’ Christmas shopping lists this year, with almost a third of respondents (31 percent) spending most on themselves.
“With consumers starting to shop for Christmas gifts as early as September, retailers have an extended period to drive sales and acquire new customers,” said Fiona O’Hara, managing director, Retail, Accenture UK & Ireland. “Further, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast becoming fixtures on the U.K. retail calendar, retailers have an opportunity to capitalize on these key milestones too. With so much competition, it is more important than ever that retailers switch from a mass-marketing approach to targeted-one-to-one offers,” she added.
Staying Connected: growth of digital and omni-channel
The survey indicates that with the proliferation of smart phone use and advances in technology, digital will play a more significant role in Christmas shopping this year. A third of consumers surveyed (34 percent) believe shopping with a mobile device will lead to better discounts and also help them compare prices while in a physical store. On Black Friday, 44 percent of consumers surveyed, said they will use a personal device – a laptop, tablet or smartphone – to shop, while 57 percent plan to use one of these devices to shop on Cyber Monday.
Further, more than half (56 percent) said that they would be willing to try or would definitely use a service that would enable them to pay using their mobile phone at checkout, according to Accenture survey.
While doing their in-store shopping this Christmas season, many consumers surveyed said they would be willing to use new digital tools. In fact, 82 percent said they were using, would definitely use or are willing to try mobile services that offer them real-time promotions and offers as they shopped in store.
“Mobility is having a dramatic impact on shopping in the U.K. With over one-third of survey respondents saying they would use a mobile device in store to compare prices, it is critical for retailers to make it seamless for consumers to trade on mobile applications by incorporating social media and mobile technologies into their stores and multichannel environments,” said O’Hara.
Privacy vs personalization
Interestingly, the survey found that while data privacy is a concern for some U.K. consumers (16 percent), 45 percent are willing to overlook privacy issues if retailers provide customized products or services during the Christmas season. However, U.K. shoppers this festive season are concerned with delivery times and rising costs: More than half (58 percent) are worried about receiving online deliveries on time, while rising home energy, food and petrol bills (43 percent, 40 percent and 24 percent, respectively) were cited as major concerns.
More online shopping trends:
Overall this Christmas season, two-thirds (65 percent) of shoppers plan to spend 50 percent or more of their Christmas gift pounds online.
Free shipping is the number-one incentive for buying gifts online (64 percent) followed by discounted items (51 percent) and an easy-to-use websites (49 percent).
Over half (51 percent) of online shopping will occur between midnight on Black Friday and midnight on Cyber Monday.
Nearly seven in 10 consumers (67 percent) say they will do most of their Christmas shopping at online-only retailers.
More trends in-store shopping trends:
Some shoppers (34 percent) are still very motivated to avoid crowded stores during the Christmas shopping season, while others (32 percent) say they love the Christmas shopping experience of going to stores.
Local independent stores and chains (86 percent) top the list of physical retail store destinations for Christmas shoppers as compared to department stores or discount outlets or specialty retailers.
A majority (85 percent) of consumers say they will do most of their holiday grocery shopping at one of the big-four grocers this year compared to 41 percent who will do their Christmas grocery shopping at discount retailers.
Pricing and promotions:
Special door-buster deals motivate consumers (32 percent) to shop in store on Christmas Eve.
Special deals also motivate consumers (40 percent) to shop in store on Boxing Day.
A third of respondents (33 percent) plan to spend between £250 and £500 on Christmas shopping this year.
Email is by far the most preferred method for receiving personalized offers and coupons (51 percent), followed by regular mail (18 percent).
Loyalty programs will be the most utilized program that consumers plan to take advantage of this festive season (41 percent).